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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Faster

FASTER

** SPOILERS **

Finally, The Rock has come back to action movies! Faster is a stripped down, violent, pulpy revenge picture struggling with its own conscience. Dwayne Johnson stars as a former wheel man sprung out of a ten year sentence in the clink on an unholy quest for vengeance against the men who murdered his crew and his beloved brother. Billy Bob Thornton and the fetching Carla Gugino are the detectives hunting down this one man crime spree systematically blowing thugs, goons, sex offenders, and telemarketers away in the dusty towns of Bakersfield, California and Henderson, Nevada.  Johnson is in fine form; he's a formidable physical presence on screen very much akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. Unlike Arnold, Johnson does a powerful amount of emoting as Faster blazes ahead. The Rock sheds his impenetrable action hero veneer and effectively conveys the inner torment driving him into this quest for murderous revenge.  Several famous character actors pop up as Johnson's targets. The most stunning is an almost unrecognizable Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko from Lost) as a reformed criminal turned preacher who pleads startlingly for Johnson's soul. Faster really ups the ante by introducing an intriguing third element into the scenario: Oliver Jackson-Cohen as an overachieving master assassin hired to take down Johnson. Jackson-Cohen is in love with Maggie Grace and struggles with his desire to pursue his career or surrender it for a chance at happiness with the woman he loves. The fact that Johnson is not only an evasive target who foils him at every turn but, much like The Rock's wrestling persona, hardly acknowledges his existence, drives Jackson-Cohen up the proverbial wall. The relationship between the supermodel-beautiful Grace and Jackson-Cohen is a pleasing divergence as Faster cuts between Johnson's manhunt and Thornton's unsavory home life. Faster really pushes past the point of believability in how Johnson can go on a five day killing spree and the police make no effort to catch him when he is hardly careful about his movements. Nor is he subtle, blazing across the deserts in an extremely conspicuous striped black Chevrolet Chevelle SS. The ultimate reveal of the conspiracy behind how and why Johnson's brother was killed and why Johnson went to prison was easy to determine using the Law of Economy of Characters.  Still, despite its preposterous elements, Faster is a grim, satisfying action yarn; a welcome throwback to 1970's grindhouse revenge pictures that inspired the similarly violent Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino films of the early 1990's.

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