FILM REVIEW: Faster(15)

When the going gets tough, the tough get into a modified 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS and gun the engine.

So it seems from George Tillman Jr’s turbo-charged revenge thriller about an ex-con on a five-day suicide mission to avenge his murdered brother.

With its thunderous action set pieces interspersed with tepid dialogue and plot twists, Faster has the hallmarks of a decent videogame once it has been towed away from the multiplexes.

As the title suggests, Tillman’s film hastily sketches the two-dimensional characters on either side of the corrupt law and embraces the need for speed as characters attempt to outrun each other in their impressive motors.

Dwayne Johnson blasts sugar-coated memories of family comedy The Tooth Fairy to smithereens in the brooding and muscular lead role, taking a gun to the head of most of his co-stars... and pulling the trigger.

British rising star Oliver Cohen-Jackson, son of fashion designer Betty Jackson, delivers an eye-catching supporting performance as the assassin for hire, whose opening scenes involve some muscle-straining yoga poses.

Screenwriters Tony and Joe Gayton are evidently catering for female audiences too here.

Driver (Johnson) is released from prison and he immediately seeks out a fast car and enough firepower to take down the rival gang responsible for killing his brother and leaving him for dead after a bank heist.

“He’s got a metal plate in the back of his head holding his face together. This guy refused to die!” growls the eccentric cop (Billy Bob Thornton), who intends to stop Driver before he completes his bloodthirsty mission.

However, the cop’s unconventional techniques are constantly thwarted by lead homicide detective Cicero (Carla Gugino), who believes in following protocol at all times.

Meanwhile, an adrenaline-junkie British hit man (Cohen-Jackson) is hired to stop Driver in his tracks.

“I beat yoga. I need to find something... more extreme!” the assassin tells his girlfriend Lily (Maggie Grace), whom he intends to marry once Driver is six feet under.

The paths of the three men collide on the road and in a run-down hotel.

Faster burns rubber for most of the 98 minutes as Driver zips back and forth across America, slaying the bad guys and staying one baby step ahead of his pursuers.

The script boasts a handful of choice one-liners - “I got a hunch”; “So did Quasimodo, look where it got him!” - and Thornton adds quirky touches to his undernourished man of the law.

Cohen-Jackson is pure eye candy, in and out of his expensive threads.

For the most part, Tillman Jr’s film puts the pedal to the metal and leaves coherent plot and characterisation in a cloud of exhaust fumes, and us choking on the implausibilities.

By Damon Smith

:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10

Released: March 25 (UK & Ireland), 98 mins