I just walked out of the movie theater after seeing Faster. I must admit, I walked in expecting a pretty grim film…and wasn’t sure that The Rock’s character would even live in the end. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of either one of the main actors, but I thought I would go just to say I saw it. After reading some of the reviews, I must put my two cents in (whether it matters to anyone or not).
Again, I really walked in expecting your average revenge movie: brother is killed by random group of thugs, and character seeks revenge by killing everyone involved. NOTE: SPOILERS. I mean seriously, don’t read this before you see the movie. Last chance!
The film starts with the camera focusing on Driver (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) pacing back and forth in a prison cell. Two inmates walk up to his cell and handcuff him through a hole in the door. They take him to the Warden (Tom Berenger), who looks through his file, showing pictures of the men who got in his way–even though he wasn’t looking for trouble. He then gives him a Crisis Intervention card with some numbers to call “if it gets to be too much.” The inmates walk Driver out of the prison’s gates into the wide open desert. He looks down at the card the Warden gave him…and flicks it into the wind. And so the story begins.
Staying with Driver, he begins to run away from the prison, to a junk yard–where a beautiful 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle waits for him.
From there he promptly goes to the man who got him the car, Roy Grone (Mike Epps). We learn that Driver has been in prison for 10 years, where he earned a large sum of money in illicit dealings. He proceeds to give half of his wad of cash to Grone in exchange for the names of the people involved in his brother’s murder. Greedy, Grone attempts to up the price of the exchange. Driver tells him the price just went down, and Grone sics his Samoan bodyguard on him. The Samoan, Kenny (Sid S. Liufau), sees the tattoo on Driver’s arm and barrels out of the office, muttering about not getting involved with “a ghost.” Grone quickly gives Driver the list of names…along with the money.
Driver quickly kills the first on the list, a man working as a telemarketer (Courtney Gains). He just walks into the office and shoots the man in the head. Here is where the plot splits into three separate segments: the audience meets Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a hired gun who kills for one dollar per contract–a man who can’t stop trying to beat whatever he looks toward; then the audience meets Cop (Billy Bob Thornton), a “mostly” clean heroin-addict, split from his wife, Maria (Moon Bloodgood), and battling for time with his young son.
Next on the list is a relatively harmless looking old man (John Cirigliano). He is seen with a cane outside his apartment complex, struggling to carry a sack of groceries up to his floor. A young college student comes along and helps him up to his room, where he offers her a drink of tea. She soon realizes that the tea is drugged, and he is a perverted creeper who faked his handicap in order to videotape pornography. In crashes Driver. The man recognizes him as the boy who he videotaped while they slit his brother’s throat and then shot him in the back of the head (Driver survived only because he was shot at an angle–the bullet went through the side of his skull and out his cheekbone)…he pleads that he didn’t know it was gonna go down like that, but Driver shoots him in the head without a word. The girl is slumped in the corner of the room, terrified–she says “Please don’t hurt me,” and Driver stares at her and says “I’m not gonna hurt you.” He leaves the room, but Killer is waiting for him. As Killer raises his gun to shoot Driver in the back, a young girl walks out of the apartment next to Driver and gasps. Driver turns and pushes the girl away before the gunfight begins. [This is where some of the depth of the movie begins for me--it turns into not simply revenge and killing everyone in his way; he protects the girl by moving her.] Killer realizes that he’s finally found someone “Faster” (Ha! They said the title of the movie in the movie) than him, and is rattled. Driver gets away.
On he goes to the person he wanted to kill the most on the list: the man who sliced Driver’s brother’s (Matt Gerald) throat personally. The man works as a bouncer at a strip club. Driver doesn’t bring his gun in, knowing he will be searched–and finding an excuse to make it more personal with a different weapon. He meets up with the man (Lester Speight) in the restroom after stealing an ice pick from the bar. The fight ends quickly–Driver stabs him repeatedly with the pick. Before losing consciousness, the man who killed his brother asks Driver to call his son and give him a message: that he’s sorry.
Driving to the final person on the list, the radio informs Driver that the man is fighting for his life at the hospital. Driver slams on the brakes, ready to finish the job. Meanwhile, Killer gets married to his sweetheart (Maggie Grace) and claims to have given up his job…but finds he can’t quit something he’s already started. Cop goes to the hospital on a hunch that Driver will want to kill the man, for real this time. Driver stalks into the hospital, bursting in on the surgery and shooting the man multiple times, finally killing him. Cop chases Driver out a back door of the hospital, where Driver gets the upper hand and has the chance to kill him but doesn’t. On the drive to finish the list, the man’s son calls his phone, telling Driver that he’s going to find him and kill him. Driver states that he needs to “make sure, because that’s a long and dark road to the end.”
To the final name on the list: the Evangelist. Side note: I was SO excited to see this man played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. I miss Mr. Eko from Lost, and this part fit him to a tee. I wasn’t as excited to see Shannon, but it was interesting to see two of the characters from the show playing in the same movie. Anyway, so Driver gets to the tent where the Evangelist is preaching, and after the sermon they go for a walk outside, where the best lines of the film are delivered. For me, this was the turning point of the film: Driver has vowed to kill all of the people involved, but does not kill the Evangelist because they are both sinners and have the never-ending hope that life will turn around. Again, I was super pumped to see the similarities between Adewale’s character in Lost and his character in the movie, but am so glad it didn’t turn out the same for him in each.
Killer is at the scene, watching Driver shoot his gun into the air instead of the Evangelist’s face, confused as to why Driver didn’t finish the job. Cop drives up to the church, where he receives a phone call from his partner on this case–he tells her that if he doesn’t make it, to tell his son that he “died like a man.” Driver is sitting in the church. The chair in front of him holds his list of names (all crossed off) and his six-shooter. Killer cocks his gun at Driver’s head, demanding Driver’s respect. Driver says “You’ve got issues,” staring into the barrel. Cop cocks his gun at Killer, getting him to put the gun down. Then Cop shoots Driver in the back of the head. Killer realizes that Cop is the missing link–the man who set all of the events into motion, the man who hired him, also. Cop tries to give Killer his dollar, but Killer refuses, saying he didn’t earn it…then Killer goes home to his wife.
Cop calls his ex-wife, telling her he wants to start over, when he is shot in the back of the neck. By Driver. Cop whispers “How?” And Driver holds up a piece of the metal plate that had been put in his head when Cop’s first bullet entered his skull (No, I don’t think this is realistic; and yes, I do believe Driver should need medical treatment. But it’s a movie. Move along.). Cop says “I created my own hell…” and Driver ends “and I’m the demon that came crawling back out of it.” Then Driver shoots Cop in the chest. Cop’s partner has discovered Cop’s guilt in the case, but, after seeing him dead, puts the evidence away. The movie ends with Driver, driving his car off into the horizon.
Others say that the plot was too thin, the acting unemotional, the chase scenes too few. I argue the exact opposite: I think there is some brilliance in this film. The plot almost reminded me of the movie Crash, where it flips between a few main characters and then merges together beautifully in sometimes surprising twists and turns. And I have no problem whatsoever with any of the acting. I empathized with all of the characters, which is usually unheard of in revenge movies. I even cried in one part in particular (hint: Evangelist scene–his sermons are so spot on, whether it’s when Driver turns on his radio or when Driver’s about to kill him), and I believe that Johnson showed emotion more than he ever has in any other of his films. I also have no problem with the choice in the amount of chase/action scenes–there were a few emotional scenes that were a little bit prolonged (Driver and his mother; Driver and the woman he was with before the bank robbery and his imprisonment–if it weren’t for her parting line “I hope you kill them ALL!” to show the depths of the loss involved, I probably would have cut it out completely), but I was kept on my toes throughout it all, and I would recommend this to anyone…okay, well, adults only. It’s rated R for a reason, people. Blood, violence, drugs, language, etc.
There’s my two cents on the matter. I leave you with a song from the soundtrack–”Short Change Hero.” Fits the movie perfectly.