(George Tillman Jr, 2010)
Lean, tough and narratively streamlined, Faster is a revenge thriller done '70s style.
That means it has a grindhouse quality most evident in the visceral relish applied to the violence. Gunfights are loud and bloody. Fistfights are brief, brutal, agonising. Car chases are ferociously quick and thrilling. People are coldly executed, throats cut, shot in the head, stabbed repeatedly.
Yet it's never boring or repetitive. Tillman keeps it moderately stylish throughout - while never allowing it to be less than gritty - and the script is nicely paced, presenting the characters with appealing clarity and providing some witty dialogue. The main figures appear archetypes, at first. The Driver, The Cop and The Killer. Yet over the course of the film each is given a little depth, a smidgen of complexity, which makes the three-way confrontation at the climax all the more satisfying.
This is a film that understands the power of pulp, that sees which cliches work, and knows how best to apply them. The revenge thriller is an easy genre, in a way, but it's rarely done quite so well as it is here. The mission is established before the credits have finished, the stakes set up within a half hour, and then we just watch it twist it's way to a bloody conclusion.
Dwayne Johnson is obviously terrific in Tillman's vigorous action sequences, but he does well containing his natural warmth and humour throughout, presenting his Driver as a being driven purely on hate and finding that hard. The rest of a fine cast are impressive, and the sense of a surprisingly classy enterprise is further enhanced by Clint Mansell's great score.
An action film as they should be: taut, powerful, direct. Like a punch to the solar plexus.