Dwayne Johnson moves Faster.
FASTER (George Tillman Jr.). 98 minutes. Now playing. For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
A straight-up revenge thriller starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a California ex-con on a mission of violent retribution, Faster is a grim, lean piece of work that feels like it crawled out of a 1978 double feature. And that's a good thing.
Joe and Tony Gayton's screenplay reaches back to minimalist American thrillers like Vanishing Point, The Getaway and The Driver to build its sun-baked universe of terse characters carrying deep reservoirs of guilt and regret. (Or not, as in the case of at least one key player.)
The story is classically simple. After spending a decade in prison, Johnson's steely avenger gets out, is given an awesome muscle car, a very large gun and a list of five names. Billy Bob Thornton and Johnson's Race To Witch Mountain co-star Carla Gugino are the homicide detectives who pick up his trail, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen is a high-powered assassin hired to stop Johnson before he can finish the job.
Director George Tillman Jr., who made the entirely undistinguished Men Of Honor and Notorious, finally finds a genre that works for him, embracing the grindhouse attitude of the Gaytons' script. Faster isn't a watershed film, and in a year's time I expect no one will even remember it, but it does what it does just fine.