Direction: George Tillman, Jr.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
The premise of Faster couldn't have been better tailored to the interests of film noir aficionados. After serving a ten-year sentence, Driver (Johnson, aka The Rock), an ex-cop, sets out to wreak vendetta against those responsible for his brother's murder during a botched bank robbery.
Unfortunately, the treatment is formulaic and we've seen the 'vengeance-is-mine' theme done better in any number of thrillers from John Boorman's Point Blank (1967) to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill (2003-04).
Besides the strong screen presence of Johnson, one of the more pleasing aspects of the film is the 1970s-styled atmosphere with rain-drenched streets, sleazy motels and an evocative rock soundtrack. Even as he commences his vengeful odyssey, the Driver finds his mission challenged by a heroin-addicted Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a handsome hit man (Jackson-Cohen) who's called Killer. Intriguingly, the central characters are identified only by archetypal descriptive labels. The ensuing nice-versus-vice-mayhem is bogged down by some heavy-handed spiritual babble. Director Tillman, Jr strives to reveal the human side of the flawed protagonists whether it's the Driver's brief reunion with his ex-wife (Jennifer Carpenter) or the Cop's relationship with his estranged spouse (Moon Bloodgood).
Among the interesting horde of subsidiary characters are the Warden (Tom Berenger, sullen as ever) and the Killer's girlfriend (Maggie Grace). Vengeance may be a hackneyed trip; still Faster is worth a ticket to ride.