Pitchforks: 4 out of 5 Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton Rating: R Opens: Nov. 24
“Simple,” is not a word generally associated with something of quality, but it is so often a key component. Complicated and convoluted, now those two words never bring to mind something of a high caliber.
“Simple” is the foundation for the new Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson film, “Faster.” Just look at the title: one, succinct, two syllable word. Nothing complicated, like say, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” Nope, in that movie, you’re going to have to use your noggin. Not so in “Faster,” no thought involved whatsoever. Case in point: the two leads are known simply as “Driver” (Johnson) and “Cop,” (Billy Bob Thornton).
You may have to force yourself to think just a little bit, but don’t worry, that one thought is sure to be “this is so damn fun!”
In a year where one of the biggest hits was “Inception,” with its intricate plot and lengthy exposition, there’s a void to be filled by the streamlined, efficient “Faster.” The plot is simple: The Driver’s brother is killed after someone leaked the location of a post-bank robbery safe house, and now the Driver, who survived a shot to the head and was just released after 10 years in prison, is determined to kill everyone who was involved. The brother’s murderers filmed the whole ordeal and the police, including the Cop, have the tape. Only the Driver saw anyone’s face: The cops must figure out who those people are before the Driver systematically kills them.
There’s also a psychotic hit man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), or the Killer, who was hired to take out the Driver. The character is one of the few unnecessary parts of the film, but doesn’t get in the way of the fun.
“Faster” is full of fast, loud cars, gratuitous violence, hard, sweaty muscles and very little dialogue. It’s a formula that works for director George Tillman Jr.: keeping only the necessities, throwing everything else out.
If “simple” is not the word you want to use to describe the film, then “epic” is probably the second-best choice. The cinematography is just that, with shots giving the film a Western feel, while still keeping it modern. The way the Driver just walks across busy streets without hesitation, causing minor accidents, the way he just points and shoots at his targets, not waiting around for them to make up excuses or for the film to get boring: totally epic.
The Driver never speaks more than three full sentences at a time, and in the entire film probably only utters a combined two paragraphs. His face tells you everything you need to know, and Johnson does a proficient job making sure you know the right things.
If neither “simple” nor “epic” do it for you, you could use “comical” to describe the movie. Like all good action films, there are the few moments where things get about as tense as you can handle, and then somebody drops a one liner. Unlike all action films, “Faster’s” one liners are genuinely witty, sometimes almost parodying the film itself.
For the person who wants to condense an entire film into one word, it would be “fun.” “Faster” does not take itself too seriously, aware of its many clichés and simple nature. By keeping it relaxed and honest, you don’t have to take it seriously either and can just enjoy the ride. There’s nothing sweeter than revenge, and that’s what the film is all about. Except in this case, the people who killed the Driver’s brother are all unquestionably bad. You don’t have to worry about morality, just about getting the job done. The cops are there, and it’s exciting to watch them unfold the case, but they don’t get in the Driver’s way. Every time the Driver pulls out of a parking spot in his Chevrolet Chevelle SS, he fish tails the car, an unnecessary maneuver, but an exciting one to watch. Unlike most films currently screening at the multiplex, you never get bored. The 95-minute run time is supremely efficient with only some unnecessary minutes wasted on the Killer.
“Faster” is simplicity at its absolute best. A simple plot that doesn’t feel worn out, exciting action, humor in all the right places and epically cool. Sometimes, you just don’t need to complicate things.
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