Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino
Directed by: George Tillman Jr. (“Notorious”)
Written by: Tony Gayton (“Murder by Numbers”) and Joe Gayton (“Bulletproof”)
While we’re ecstatic Dwayne Johnson seems to have ditched embarrassing kiddie fare like “Tooth Fairy,” “The Game Plan,” and “Race to Witch Mountain” by starring in “Faster,” his stock isn’t much higher since the ultra-violent action flick is without personality.
It’s not entirely Johnson’s fault. As “Driver,” an ex-convict out for revenge for the death of his brother, the ex-WWE star proves he still has everything it would take for him to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s actually kind of surprising that he’s not closer to that distinction yet since he’s been out of the wrestling ring for six years. It’s not charisma, attitude, or primal instinct Johnson is lacking. High-quality scripts keep dodging him for some reason.
That’s where screenwriters Tony and Joe Gayton come in with “Faster,” a film with all the violence one could want, but without a true sense of adventure. In the film, “Driver” does his share of point-blank shooting and engine revving, but it all feels very unoriginal in a genre that usually needs a distinctive touch to stand out. Director Quentin Tarantino has recently mastered it with films like “Kill Bill” and “Inglourious Basterds.” It doesn’t help that Johnson has already starred in “Walking Tall,” another less-than-stellar entry into the revenge genre. Johnson carries a small hand cannon in this one and not a two-by-four, but it feels all the same nonetheless.
Aside from Johnson’s no-nonsense attitude, the Gaytons fail to give any depth to the characters that are thrown in “Driver’s” way. Billy Bob Thornton plays “Cop,” a drug-addicted officer who never comes off as an actual threat. Then there is a character identified as “Killer” (Oliver Jackson Cohen), a slick assassin who has absolutely no reason to even exist. Actually, all the secondary storylines are weak and uninteresting, which puts all the pressure on Johnson to maneuver the film past all the pointless junk.
“Faster” is well shot, but there’s simply not enough material here to create a memorable vengeance movie. When the twists and turns start happening, it’s far too late to save face. Most of them have been blown off anyway.