[Gabe Liedman is a stand-up comedian. In his new column, he takes on the genre of Dude Flicks, where guns, pecs, car crashes and glib one-liners delivered in front of a burning building with only half a t-shirt on and nothing left to lose reign supreme. He loves those movies for so many reasons, all of which are that they turn him ON.]
Did you like Kill Bill, but spend the whole time wishing that Uma Thurman had bigger tits? Bigger, rock-hard tits, carved from café au lait granite that crept behind her neck like a halter-top of sculptural, boiled horse thighs and Hummer tires, swallowing her chiseled face in an endless plain of russet people-fibers and steel-blue stubble? Do you wish Kill Bill didn’t waste your fucking time and brain cells with bullshit like style, humor, dialogue (humorous or otherwise), and choreography? Do you just wish the choreography had been careography? That as a modern take on Spaghetti Westerns it had been that kind of spaghetti dish you get from a random diner where all the sauce is just on top of a bed of plain, stuck-together spaghetti that has no heat of its own, wasn’t tossed in olive oil or even salt, just sat in a cold stainless-steel bowl by itself all day, waiting for a big ladle-full of half-assed marinara to be dumped on its head, topped with a meatball that is just a kind of tall mini-hamburger (not baked, no seasoning), and zero flakes of cheese? Then you should see Faster, the new Dwayne “The Rock” [hard] Johnson [get it?] cinema film, which marks his triumphant return to dude-flick-ery, after a delightful foray into Kindergarten town (Tooth Fairy, and Race to Witch Mountain (did you guys know they actually had the DECENCY to throw Kim Richards in that?)). Suffice it to say: Dwayne The R J has not lost an ounce of grit in the meantime. Oh, and Spoiler Alert: this thing contains spoilers.
Dwayne “The Rock” [hard] Johnson [get it?] plays “Driver”—a dude whom we meet as he struts out of prison, free to sprint straight to a municipal dump where a sports car, leather jacket, revolver, and map are waiting for him. From there he screeches onto the road, stomps right through a cubicle farm in a random office complex in the California suburbs, and blows the brains out of a telemarketer’s head, while all his coworkers read blogs and chug coffee, or whatever people with jobs do.
We learn that Driver was in jail because he and his older brother, the lovely Matt Gerald (Avatar), whose character is called “Driver’s Brother,” were teammates on a bank-robbing team. Driver was the getaway driver, ddduuuuhhhhh, and his big trick was to alternate between Drive and Reverse at very high speeds to elude cop-pigs, and his success rate was 100%. But, then, a rival gang, comprised of a couple thug-types, one creepy dork (the telemarketer from before), a snuff filmmaker (literally), and a mystery bossman, surprise Driver and Driver’s Brother and their two boyfriends by breaking into their safe house, stealing all their money, and killing all of them. Oh, and videotaping all of it for one of their personal snuff collections.
But, wait, did I say the rival gang killed Driver?! Yes, or kind of, but then he came back to life at the hospital (he’s part Jesus, part Buffy), and got a huge steel plate in his skull to patch up all the openness from the violence. Then he went to jail! Then he got out of jail! Then he started hunting down the gang who killed his brother and boyfriends, and him (kind of), and killing them BACK, revenge-o style, BOOM BOOM!
Hot on Driver’s tail are: the always-stunning Carla Gugino, here dressed as a suburban cop with an infinitely-layered brunette mop of straight-curls and an array of button-up collared blouses, and Billy Bob Thornton—a weasely, heroin-addict cop, weeks from retirement, dressed in polyester and corduroy. They’re an unlikely match for sure, but not as unlikely as the third person who’s also on Driver’s tail: a character named “Killer” because he is a hitman. Sort of.
See, when you’re a young, adorable British software billionaire living in California with your girlfriend Maggie Grace from Lost, and are all suave and stuck-up, yet unbelievably beautiful during a gravity-defying Yoga sequence in which your sculpted core and pretzel of sinewy leg-meat reached to the sky and opened to greet the desert air with a fresh-as-a-daisy-but-not-in-a-“gay”-way taint in baby-shorts, but you used to have Forrest Gump crutches as a toddler, and you’re played by an unheard-of Jewish boy named Oliver whose British accent isn’t fake, then … you’re not really just a hitman, are you? So, yeah, that’s “Killer,” who is a software billionaire at a very young age, fucks Maggie Grace, and is a hitman on the side for kicks. Maggie Grace knows about Killer’s side project and she fucking loves it, and Killer’s new prey is supposed to be Driver. Good luck, kiddo.
So, Carla Gugino and Billy Bob Thornton chase Driver around, sort of—her looking gorgeous, him doing heroin secretly and being a deadbeat dad. Killer chases Driver around a little more actively, and has a couple of shoot-outs with him, and car chases (the careography is fierce, the guns are loud). All the while, Driver continues to cross people off his big list of kill-me’s—he kills the snuff-film auteur with a gun right when he’s about to make a new snuff film with a drugged-up, unwilling teenage girl. Yuck!
Then he stops by the sister from Dexter’s house and seems like he’s going to kill her, but instead we find out she’s his ex-girlfriend (getting pounded flat by your mountain of a boyfriend keeps you skinny and beautiful) whom HE dumped from inside prison, even though she was pregnant with his (obviously) HUMONGOUS baby, so she got an abortion. The end about that! Except: come on, a lady the size of Jennifer Carpenter wouldn’t stand a chance in the sack with Dwayne “The Rock” [hard] Johnson [get it?]—she’d be a cloud of dust in ten seconds. Love her though! Cash them chex, grrrrl.
Driver stabs some dude through the <3 with an ice pick at a titty bar, but he survives, so Driver shows up at the hospital and shoots the fuck out of him while he’s getting surgery. Then he calls the dude’s son from the dude’s cell phone a couple times. Ice cold. The dude’s son is like “I’m gonna kill you revenge-o style,” and Driver’s like “good luck, son,” or whatever.
Billy Bob Thornton seems to know all of Driver’s next steps beforehand, and you know it’s not his dope whispering sweet truths in his arm-holes. The “mystery” begins to unfold as Driver reaches the end of his list—a Revival-style preacher named “Preacher,” played by my #2 All-Time TV Crush (you’re safe, David Puddy from Seinfeld–all 300lbs of you): ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE, better known as Mr. Eko from Lost.
Oh, you better fucking watch it, Mr. Eko from Lost, I’ve been known to be a real Smoke Monster in the sack. I’m gonna burn this tent DOWN. Oh, and if you and Maggie Grace happened to have any sort of nasty reunion in your trailer, maybe happened to film it on your Zune, please don’t be shy about sharing it right now. “Faster! Mr. Eko! Faster”—John Locke.
Sadly, ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE wasn’t nearly as topless in Faster as he was in Lost. Come to think of it, no one really was. There was an amazing close-up of Dwayne “The Rock” [hard] Johnson [get it?]’s nipple in the opening scenes, the Heaven-Yoga performed by topless Killer, and that was pretty much it for the male nudity. But, luckily, when dealing with a cast as buxom and pumped-up as this one, no shirt (or leather jacket, for that matter) stands a chance against the visibility of gigantic, hormone-marinated slabs of bovine man-tit. It’s there, alongside loud car chases, gun-shots-to-the-head where that trail of CGI blood leaps through the air in slow motion, Carla Gugino purring the words “dude” and “popped,” and an action movie so stripped-down of style and stunt-ery that it watches the way a hit-list reads. It’s no Walking Tall, a Dwayne “The Rock” [hard] Johnson [get it?] masterpiece to beat all Dwayne “The Rock” [hard] Johnson [get it?] masterpieces, but, what the fuck is, right?