Movie Review: Faster


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* out of *****

Can you smell what Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is cooking?

That reference might be a tad dated, because The Rock has ditched the wrestling ring in favor of another career in make-believe fighting.

His last couple of films have included The Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain, two forgettable family friendly flops that question The Rock's credentials. But here he's back, trying (and failing) to prove us wrong while serving up a dish of cold, hard payback in his latest exhibit of eyebrow bending bloodshed, Faster.

The movie wastes no time in getting down to business, as The Rock, simply known as "Driver" in this film, gets released from prison, jacks a smooth-looking Chevelle SS, drives rather erratically down Sunset Boulevard, walks into a telemarketing office, and blows away a pencil-pocket nerd — in the first two minutes. Phew.

The Rock barely utters a word as he continues his killing spree, which we find out is motivated by revenge against those who were involved in the murder of his brother. Assigned to the case is washed-up drug addict and Detective Humphries, played by the sleazy-looking Billy Bob Thornton.

I wasn't quite sure whether he was supposed to provide comic relief, or if I just found him unintentionally humorous. Either way, the movie unsuccessfully attempts to indulge us in Humphries' personal life of struggling to balance throwing the ball around with his son with shooting up heroin in the back seat of his squad car.

A quarter into the movie, we are introduced to a character who goes by the name Killer ( Oliver Jackson-Cohen). He left me scratching my chin, attempting to pinpoint what, exactly, his story was supposed to be. Gathering what I could from a quick montage of old pictures, Killer was a disabled child who overcame his walking disability to become the British version of Mark Zuckerberg, obsessively practicing yoga with his hot wife and leading up to a career as a professional hitman just because he's bored. But Killer's life is actually more believable than his acting, and I left convinced his character was included in this movie for no reason at all.

The movie juggles back and forth among these three central characters and their lives, which took away from what Faster is supposed to be … The Rock beating the living daylights out of people.

While The Rock's story of a criminal past and hatred for those who betrayed his brother is believable, Humphries' life is overly comical. The story drags on too long, and there's very little fighting or action as we watch countless scenes of The Rock driving angrily and simply executing people who put up little to no protest. I never thought I'd sit through a Rock movie longing for more action, but then again, I didn't catch The Tooth Fairy.

As Faster got longer, the pace grew slower, and that's where the movie ultimately failed. It never seemed to trust its strengths, favoring sappy plots over justifying my $8 with Rock Roundhouses and high body counts. And only five people die in this movie. Five! I've seen The Rock take out five people with one swing of a sword in The Scorpion King. Bottom line: When a Rock movie has a lower death toll than a Harry Potter flick, things are grim.

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