Pre Ride or Die Dwayne Johnson
Before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became the highest paid actor in Hollywood, he was still trying to avoid being type casted as just another big tough guy. In 2010, he starred in the movie Faster as a silent, built like a steel brick, loner. A wheelman with a revenge to-do list and only a high caliber revolver, and a black 1970 Chevelle SS, at his disposable. Unlike the rest of the movies on my underrated list, this is one movie I was able to see in theaters on opening weekend.
The movie Faster is lean when it comes to plot, no fat. All the main characters don’t even have names. Johnson plays Driver, a man on a mission of vengeance who has just been released from a 10 year prison sentence. Driver is only interested in one thing, getting revenge on those who killed his older brother during an ambush after a bank heist. While in prison he survived by betting down anyone that tried to challenge him and is consider a living ghost due to being legally declared dead after being shot in the head during the ambush. Shot in the back of the head, the bullet bounced off his skull, traveled around the side of his head and existed out his cheek. Refusing to die, a metal plate holds the back of his head together.
Driver has spent the last 10 years tracking down the whereabouts of all the crew members that ambushed him and his brother. Now free, he is on a manhunt to kill all of them. The Cop, played by Billy Bob Thornton, is a burnout dope-junkie detective who’s a few days from retirement (clique I know but don’t focus on that.) Cop has a special, secret, interest in catching the Driver for reasons unknown until the end of the film.
In this scene, Cop drops in to see what condition his condition is in.
The hitman, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohan, is a Steve Jobs-ish type millionaire with a real bad case of adrenaline addiction. He is known only as Killer. His whole thing is that he uses contract killing as a way to keep himself from getting bored. Having already climbed Mount Everest, defeated yoga, sold a multi-millionaire company, he is just seeking “something more ultimate”. He is tasked to take care of Driver as soon as possible.
The whole movie follows Driver as he makes his way through the list of names while Cop and Killer try to stop him. The ending lands all three at a standoff where the truth is revealed.
Why Faster is Cool & Underrated
The movie trailer was what originally got me interested in this movie. An angry Rock driving a classic muscle car and kicking ass? Sold!
I like the simplicity of the movie. No long periods of dialog that go nowhere, no obvious product placement, and no unnecessary forced humor. Just action and drama. Dwayne Johnson actually does some of his own driving in this film which adds to the cool factor. The 1970 Chevelle is actually a 1971 wearing a ’70 face mask, but there is also a gold ’67 GTO that does get some serious screen time with The Rock behind the wheel.
Like with all great movies, the soundtrack is the bright red ribbon that ties that whole package together. Using songs from pre-Gambler Kenny Rogers, The Heavy, and more.
The Car Chases
The first 10 minutes of the film has one of the coolest openings to a car-based action drama. When Driver is released from prison and he runs into town to a salvage yard. There he finds his Chevelle kept safe under a tarp. Keys under the front tire, he opens the car to pull out a black leather jacket. (You can’t be a badass driver without a cool jacket, right?) Under the seat he finds a Rugar .454 caliber revolver and his to-do list of names in the glove box.
Chevelle takes off like a bat out of hell with the throttle wide open to the nearest name on the list. Upon arrival he wastes no time walking into a crowded office building and shoots the guy dead without saying a word. Stone cold.
There is also a chase scene where the Chevelle goes wheel to wheel with Killer’s Ferrari 360, and its actually believable. Driver sees the Ferrari in the rear view and hammers down. In order to lose Killer, Driver pulls a 180 handbrake turn across an 18-wheeler which swerves to avoid the Chevelle and shuts the door on the Ferrari by forcing it into the breakdown lane. When the 18-wheeler passes, Killer sees the Chevelle with Driver’s gun pointed at him.
The Deleted Scene, Chevelle vs Ferrari
There is one scene that is shown in the trailer but was cut from the movie. It’s the last scene before the ending credits. According to the internet, this scene was scrapped because the test audience did not like the ending. I could not find the clip online.
In this scene, Killer is set to retire and go home to his wife, but his pride can’t shake the feeling of not finishing the job. The Driver is just trying to leave but the two meet on a two lane blacktop. Ferrari versus Chevelle, the two men charge forward in a game of chicken while unloading their pistols at one another. The two vehicles crash and the low front end of the Ferrari launches the Chevelle into the air before crash landing to the Earth while the Ferrari spins out into a fence.
Both men survive the wreck, of course, and square off. Killer is out of ammo but Driver has one last round and puts it right in Killer’s heart. Driver is not a bad man, just a man driven to darkness and tells Killer that he did a good job, as a comforting last thought to his ego before he dies.
Throwback to Macho Movies
Faster may not have been a box office smash, or even a cult classic, but its still a movie worth watching. It’s a throwback to the golden age of 1970’s macho movies like Death Wish, Dirty Harry, and Gator. Where the plot always involved revenge, the action is good, the main characters are tough, and the ending isn’t always happy. Faster is a solid movie that shows off the Chevelle as a character rather than a prop. The music is awesome, it has some pretty great scenes, and that is why I feel Faster an underrated car movie. Check it out if you ever get the chance, you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s the full red band trailer.
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