By Caesar Martini
You know, if you’re a huge, intimidating dude, I think there is a finite amount of time you can spend in an environment intentionally set up to be the diametric opposite of your appearance and personality (such as a family movie) before that juxtaposition ceases to be funny or interesting (re: anything in the 80’s starring Hulk Hogan). In my humble opinion, that finite amount of time is about thirty seconds, which is why it’s annoying that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has done no less than three full length family films. He wore a tutu in one, for god’s sake.
Thank Odin that The Rock has chosen Faster as his most recent project; a film where his only job is looking angry and being terrifyingly well muscled while he shoots people in the face. And he does this job very well. The first thing I thought when I saw the opening of the movie as The Rock paced menacingly in his prison cell was, “Holy shit he is HUGE.” I was legitimately afraid of him because he was so very big and so very angry.
And for most of the movie that’s all he is; big, angry, and shooty. I’m not sure I can blame him for it, because the role doesn’t give him much room for anything else. From the moment he gets out of prison, The Rock embarks on a very impatient and urgent mission of revenge against the men who put him in jail and killed his brother. It’s not until a flashback sequence in the middle that you see The Rock display emotions lower on the Clinical Anger Scale than Mel Gibson Being Swarmed By Jewish Bees. Late in the movie there’s a scene where The Rock has to display inner conflict, and he did a good job of that, but I still wish there was a bit more range for him to tackle.
However, given the limited main character and the genre of the film, Faster actually has a lot of dimensions to it. The hitman who chases The Rock is skilled and determined but has obsession issues and relationship dilemmas. Billy Bob Thornton provides most of the acting power in the film. His character is a nearly retired officer tasked to bring The Rock to justice, but he is also an unliked, washed up drug addict struggling to reconcile with his wife. I was quite surprised by how much backstory these two supporting characters carried with them.
A few things end up exactly like I predicted they would, and that’s par for the course for action/revenge movies so I can’t really pretend it insults my intelligence. But there were a couple of things that did not happen the way I expected, and I appreciated that. The depth of the supporting characters and the occasional plot curve ball did a lot to keep me interested in the story. Faster isn’t going to blow your mind, but I feel that even with its modest budget it’s an above-average entry in the Angry Guy Gets Swift And Violent Justice sub genre.