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The names have been changed to protect the guilty in Notorious director George Tillman Jr.'s latest. Actually, a few of them have been omitted altogether. Tagged in the credits as Driver, the movie's antihero is never called by any name onscreen. But that's not what's making him fume and seethe. After serving 10 years for a soured bank robbery that ended with a double cross and his brother Gary's murder, Driver has one thing exquisitely in focus as he walks out of prison: vengeance.
Make that bloody vengeance.
An informant on the outside has compiled a hit list of those who were involved in Gary's death, and Driver sets out to pick them off one by one until "justice" is served. But there's a hitch or two. Also nameless, Cop is a disheveled has-been detective who's just days away from retirement. Assigned to Driver's case, he and his reluctant partner, Detective Cicero, are hot on Driver's trail. The mysteriously hired Killer is also breathing down Driver's neck as he travels from victim to victim.
Killer, a wealthy and stylish hit man, views life merely as a set of elite challenges to conquer, including climbing Mt. Everest, striking nearly impossible yoga poses and pulling off "perfect" murders. Killer kills out of boredom—even while talking to his therapist on the phone—and considers assassinations to be his artistic hobby. Cop, meanwhile, is happy to get high occasionally, to patch things up with his estranged wife, Marina, and to see his little boy more often.
Driver? Well, he's a homicidal machine who will stop at nothing to avenge his brother. Well, almost nothing. And it turns out that his hit list is enigmatically incomplete. There's one more puzzling figure he just can't quite remember.
Cop loves his son and tries to improve his failing marriage. Driver's mother apologizes for not protecting him from his father's physical abuse when he was a child. One of Driver's dying victims begs him to call his son and tell him he's sorry—presumably for the fact that he was involved in a murder and that his own life ended in violence. An ex-girlfriend apologizes to a shaken Driver for aborting their child while he was in prison.
Preacher, who acted as a lookout during the robbery double cross, has genuinely turned his life around and now works to help wayward boys.
Preacher prematurely forgives Driver for killing him when he expects to be shot in the head. Even as he prepares to die, Preacher prays to God to save Driver's soul and release him from the bondage of hate. While on his homicidal trek, Driver listens to segments of the man's sermons on the radio, which highlight the importance of forgiveness and resisting darkness. (Driver hears but doesn't listen.) Preacher says, "God did not put you down here to be perfect, but to be saved" and, "When you're down with God, God is eternally down with you."
A penitentiary official says that a person is only spiritually good when at one with himself. He tells Driver to leave the darkness that has enveloped him and talks of the evil Driver's endured while incarcerated. Marina tells Cop that they're going to hell for what they did. (She says that people make their own heaven and/or hell while on earth. And Cop eventually agrees that he has made his own hell.)
Dancers in a "gentlemen's club" use stripper poles and wear scanty bikinis as they move suggestively. A woman wears a bra, panties and a flowing robe that's open. The camera also focuses on her while she's in bed, partially covered by a sheet. She and Killer kiss passionately. Marina and Cop are seen snuggling in bed, and they kiss. A man wears only boxer shorts, and other men go shirtless.
A man's neck is sliced open, and the camera doesn't blink during the close-up. The victim falls to the floor, gurgling and bleeding to death. Multiple people are shot in the forehead and/or other parts of their bodies, often with a view of the bullet messily exiting the backs of their skulls or torsos. Most die. Driver stabs a man in the heart with a screwdriver. When he discovers that the man didn't expire, he backtracks to the hospital and finishes the kill by shooting him repeatedly during surgery. Driver also points a gun at his own mother's head, saying he came to kill his father, whom he thinks set him and Gary up. Later, Driver is shot point-blank in the back of the head and left for dead.
Driver is said to have taken down gangs in prison, and he has a scorekeeping tattoo—a bar for each group and/or leader he's said to have slain. Photographs show victims' wounded corpses, as well as Driver's own gruesome injuries. A man's gunshot wound is shown being sewn closed—up close. People run into heavy traffic, oblivious to the cars screeching around them. Violent car chases take up quite a bit of screen time.
Crude or Profane Language
Around five each of the f- and s-words. Christ's name is abused at least a half-dozen times. God's name is misused 10 or 12 times, often coupled with "d‑‑n." A few uses each of "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "b‑‑tard."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Marina comes close to overdosing on heroin, and we see her ashen form sitting on a bathroom floor. Cop does dope as well. (We see the syringe he uses.) He chain-smokes cigarettes. Cigars are lit. Alcohol is served in a club. A sex offender spikes a young woman's beverage, debilitating her. Killer tells his therapist that he's off his medication. Preacher says he once did drugs.
Other Negative Elements
Driver scoffs at the positive advice he receives while leaving prison. Cop lies several times, including to Cicero, and tells his drug dealer to lie as well. His attitude, explained by his favorite catchphrase, is "go with the flow"—which for him translates into an irresponsible, lazy approach to life.
Innocent bystanders are traumatized during shoot-outs and murders. Cop and Cicero commend Driver for killing victims with a perverse criminal history, saying he did the world a favor. A woman tells Driver she hopes he kills everyone on his list. Killer's wife is a willing accomplice to his crimes when she prepares his weapons.
It's been said that the eye-for-an-eye philosophy of justice only leaves everyone blind. And, indeed, Driver is blind with hatred from the very beginning. While he does spare Preacher during a merciful nanosecond, the idea of extending forgiveness as a lifestyle change has no chance of penetrating his heart. And that has a lot to do with him carrying out his bloody missions while fully understanding exactly how bleak they make his life. When a victim's son says he will find and kill Driver, Driver responds, "You do what you gotta do, but you better be sure 'cause that's a long, dark road you're headed down."
Driver's two enemies, Cop and Killer, aren't any better. So nobody's gaining any insight along the course of this long, dark movie.
Preacher tells his congregation that people are never truly free until they've forgiven those who've wronged them. That hatred is an enslaving chain people choose to wear. And through Driver's, Cop's and Killer's poor examples, audiences might see the remarkable value of forgiveness. But it's far more likely that they'll be too engrossed in the sleek car chases, gory violence and mightily muscled bodies to notice.
An old high school literature teacher of mine maintained that unnamed characters who play significant roles in fiction are sometimes left unspecified as a literary device. There could be a variety of reasons for doing this, but in the case of less desirable characters, it's often because they don't deserve to be acknowledged. I highly doubt Faster's writers had any of that in mind—but, as a critic, it leaps to the front of mine.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Dwayne Johnson as Driver; Billy Bob Thornton as Cop; Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Killer; Carla Gugino as Cicero; Maggie Grace as Lily; Moon Bloodgood as Marina
Castle Rock Entertainment
November 24, 2010
March 1, 2011