Thursday, May 26, 2011


What I’m gong to tell you is probably no great revelation about the state of today’s movies. Since the days of The Wild Bunch and Bonnie and Clyde, Hollywood has been offering an ever-increasing stream of violent films. What’s different today is violent movies have become more stylistic. Action films are more about high body count that glorifies violence. Most movies today have made violence fun. Filmmakers are finding more creative and interesting ways to torment and kill their victims.

I don’t write lot of reviews on violent movies or on action movies for that matter. But I believe Faster, which was recently released on DVD, has a different tone and a different view. Note of warning: Although Faster is not your typical shoot’em up movie, it does contain graphic violence. This movie may not be for you if you are sensitive to potential violent acts.

Faster stars Dwayne Johnson as The Driver, a man who has spent the last ten years incarcerated, where he lived by his own rules and refused to join any gangs. The Driver is a man on a mission, who has thought about one thing and one thing only for ten years. He is determined to find and kill those responsible for the death of his brother. The Driver is a man consumed by hatred and revenge, and it doesn’t take long before he ruthlessly and systematically starts his killing spree.

Next, enter The Killer, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. The Killer has been hired by an unknown client as a means to stop The Driver. Just like The Driver, The Killer is consumed with the task of killing. As a source of pride, The Killer always completes his assignments as a test of his abilities.

Making the plot more complex is Slade Humpheries better know as The Cop portrayed by Billy Bob Thorton. The Cop has been assigned the case to track down The Driver. Again, The Cop is a flawed character dealing with drug addiction. Billy Bob is perfect for this part because he has the look and intensity as a burnt-out cop who’s been on the job way too long.

Ultimately, it’s The Evangelist, portrayed by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who presents The Driver with the moral complexities that drive this film. Now The Driver must think about his actions and contemplate the consequences. What starts out as a typical action movie and revenge flick now takes a sudden 180 as it explores issues of forgiveness and redemption. The Evangelist states that the road of revenge is a dead end.

The major complication of Faster is The Evangelist was responsible for the death of The Driver’s brother. The Evangelist now has a family, has made peace with God and has turned his life around. He seeks to help people who are in the same fallen state as himself and The Driver. Will The Driver seek revenge and kill The Evangelist?

The Killer is given a chance to walk away. Will he walk away or complete his assignment?

Faster received mixed reviews and had a somewhat disappointing run at the box office. I think this was because the audience was expecting the usual kill-high effect of a stylistic, revenge movie with a high body count. That’s not what they got. This a movie that has a moral compass. In some ways, it’s an anti-violent movie. I never feel that it endorsees violence, but it certainly explores the effects of hate and what violence can do to our lives. Although The Driver may be justified in his attempt to seek justice and vengeance, the question is what will the price be.

Although we really never know if The Driver ultimately completely embraces redemption, he does have a great deal to ponder. Perhaps, the heart of the movie can be summed up in a conversation that The Driver has with the son of one of his victims. The voice on the other end of the phone tells The Driver he is planning on hunting him down and killing him for the death of his father. The Driver replies by saying “that’s a long journey down a dark road”. We may never seek that type of justice, but when we fail to forgive and hold on to hate, we also take a journey down a very dark road as well. Maybe that is the lesson we can all take away from this film.

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