The Rock has officially returned as an action star. 'Faster' is a simple, fast-paced, pure action romp that speeds through its run time without concerning itself with too much of a convulted story. In fact, the only time the film really makes a misstep is when it tries to be something more than what it needs to be. The completely unnecessary character of a hired hitman brings in too much convultion of the plot where it would be better if the film simply focused on The Rock and his quest of seeking revenge on the gang of folks that murdered his brother right in front of him. It is simply good to see Mr. Johnson getting back into form after suffering a few duds in the action realm and deciding to take the safer route into family-friendly films. It was a fine move, worked for Arnold and Diesel, but this guy was practically passed the torch by the governor himself and it would be a shame to let those skills, that presence go to waste. That is what makes 'Faster' a genuinely enjoyable B-movie. The simple overwhelming presence The Rock has as he walks through a street, stone-faced with no regard to the world around him. The 70's like style implied by director George Tillman as well as the washed out color palette and southern tinged soundtrack add a flavor to the film that would otherwise make this a more bland type of action movie. All the parts seem to be working in unison here though and succeed most of the time in making this a pleasant and gruesome ride at the same time. The casting director should also be comended as they were wise enough to fill even some of the smaller roles with some wonderful performers. Having Mike Epps make a short cameo as well as the lovely Jennifer Carpenter shows some substance behind these flash in the pan characters they are supposed to be portraying. They allow their off screen persona to lend to what we are supposed to think of them here. We are never given names of characters, except for a few on a short list that The Rock carries around with him. Having Carla Gugino play the sexy and understated detective is a nice touch and Billy Bob Thornton shows off his best stuff in years finally taking a break from playing a coach or complete a-hole. He still carries that drunken persona with him, but as I said before, it lends to his on-screen persona. This is to be said for the star of the film as well. People are going to go see this because they want a good action film and they trust Mr. Johnson will deliver. The filmmakers are smart enough to let that image stay intact on screen. There isn't much dialogue and the scenes of violence are brief but intense. The stunt driving in the film is spectacular and one particular getaway chase will no doubt leave you hoping for more. Where the best bits of drama spawn from are not the excessive story lines on the side, but in the moments before The Rock decides if he will kill or not. The most intense coming when he encounters a man who has since turned his life around and is now a preacher. The scene literally had me on edge and confided in me the confidence to rate this as a solid action film. Though it may be average in every way, it is the best kind of conventional. What keeps it from getting a higher reccomendation is trying to do too much, add too much plot, too many characters when all it really needs is our protagonist walking around making sure those who deserve it, die. I hope 'Faster' is a hit, if not because it is a pretty decent film, but for the fact that The Rock will be given the confidence to continue making these action films. We need more of these brainless action morality tales, Jason Statham can't make them all, and The Rock is simply too huge an attitude to let go to waste.

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