Dwayne Johnson as Driver
Billy Bob Thornton as Cop
Moon Bloodgood as Marina, Cop's wife
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Killer, a self-made millionaire hitman who kills for fun.
Maggie Grace as Lily, Killer's girlfriend.
Tom Berenger as Warden
Carla Gugino as Cicero
Mike Epps as Roy Grone
Lester Speight as Baphomet
Xander Berkeley as Sergeant Mallory
Jennifer Carpenter as Woman, Driver's ex-girlfriend.
Matt Gerald as Gary, Driver's Brother
Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, is back to his old ass-kicking ways in the new action thriller Faster, an old school revenge flick of the hard-boiled 1970s variety. Johnson plays a man simply called Driver, a former getaway driver who has just been released after doing 10 hard years in prison. Driver has one need, one simple but deadly motivation: to find the sons of bitches whose treachery landed him behind bars and killed his brother.
Ruthlessly and methodically tracking down the mysterious baddies who wronged him (thanks to info provided to him by Mike Epps as an underworld figure), Driver is shooting his enemies dead within hours of being released. This obviously brings him to the attention of the police (Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino).
Thornton's "Cop" is a heroin addict with a badge who is desperate to patch things up with his estranged wife (Moon Bloodgood) and their young son. But his pursuit of Driver stands to risk all of that. Cop isn't the only one hunting Driver. So is Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a dapper hired gun with a hot girlfriend (Maggie Grace) and an incessant need for the next thrill. All of their paths converge the closer Driver gets to finding his man.
Faster is an exercise in simplicity and minimalism, right down to its archetypal characters and old school action scenes. In this day and age of movie heroes employing heavy firepower, it was sort of refreshing to see The Rock wielding a revolver. Like a cowboy with his six-shooter and horse, Driver just needs his revolver and muscle car to get the job done. Hell, he doesn't even need a name!
It was fun to see The Rock back doing hardcore action again rather than demeaning himself in yet another family-friendly comedy. Johnson has immense charisma and screen presence, which goes a long way in compensating for his lack of thespian prowess. Still, he's more emotive than his forebears Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger often were. Driver's actually not too far removed from Stallone's Cobra, another tough guy of few words, simple but deadly needs and a sweet car.
The most interesting character in the piece is Cop, whom we first meet as a groveling junkie in a grimy men's room. It's not until afterward that we learn he's a detective. Thornton finds the humanity and gray areas in his character, arguably the only truly multi-dimensional one in the film. Jackson-Cohen, who looks like a cross between Jake Gyllenhaal and Clive Owen, also finds the human elements in his absurd and superfluous character.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, as one of the men on Driver's hit list, is the only supporting cast member who distinguishes himself. The rest are merely serviceable, including Gugino, Grace, and the briefly seen Jennifer Carpenter. Tom Berenger and Xander Berkeley are wasted in thankless cameos.
It may be a perfunctory action flick, but Faster is nevertheless worth a look for no other reason than it rescues Johnson from banal family fare. (If it tanks, you know we'll just get Tooth Fairy 2.) Sadly, the film's sermonizing (literally) about the perils of vengeance and the ridiculousness of some of its characters prevent Faster from being a better movie. For what it is, though, it offers offers fans of The Rock their money's worth of ass-kicking.