Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has successfully transitioned from a pro wrestler to an actor with some decent films to his credit, including The Rundown, a remake of Walking Tall and Get Smart, along with, inevitably, some real clunkers, including the oddly off-the-mark remake of Race to Witch Mountain and the ghastly Tooth Fairy. Johnson is solid in Faster, and it's a pleasure to see him back in top form.
Faster is a throwback to the action films of the 1970's, from the production color schemes to the film stock and camera angles utilized by cinematographer Michael Grady. If you're not familiar with classics like Shaft, The French Connection, Dirty Harry, Enter the Dragon and the original Walking Tall, however, you might find yourself a bit confused by the unrelentingly serious and aggressive feel of the film. There are no humorous interludes, not much of a love interest, just a story of revenge.
Johnson plays "Driver", a tough-as-nails hoodlum who we first meet on the day he's being released from a maximum security prison after ten years of incarceration. During his exit interview with the warden (Tom Berenger), he only wants one question answered: which door leads to the exit? Upon release he runs a few miles into town because there's no-one at the prison gates to meet him. From his first minutes of freedom, he's focused on tracking down the crooks who double-crossed his gang, killing his much-loved kid brother and leaving him bleeding to death.
The genre formula has a policeman as the antagonist, trying to track down and capture the criminal, and Billy Bob Thornton plays this role, one he's played in countless films. He's a highly imperfect slob of a cop, though his relationship with Driver proves surprisingly complex as their cat-and-mouse game defines the tension of the film.
I really enjoyed Faster and found it a throwback to the classic action films of my childhood, tough and exciting. If you've been weaned on the modern crop of cop dramas, you might find it rather dark, but if films like Bullit, The French Connection or Dirty Harry are your idea of a satisfying action adventure, then you'll find Faster a solid, enjoyable movie.