WE’D ALMOST forgotten the wrestling

Directed by George Tillman Jr. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Guigino, Tom Berenger, Oliver Jackson-Cohen 16 cert, gen release, 98 min

WE’D ALMOST forgotten the wrestling. The artist formerly known as The Rock has worked long and hard to escape his sweaty origins. The Rock is dead. Long live Dwayne Johnson, the family adventure hero, the charismatic comedian, the occasional arthouse dabbler.

After all that, it’s a little confusing to walk into a cinema and discover that Dwayne Johnson has reverted back to the stoical, sculpted look of a pantomime prizefighter. The Rock is back and this time it’s personal.

Faster, a pulsating new thriller from director George Tillman Jr ( Notorious, Soul Food) opens as our ripped hero gets released from a 10-year prison stretch in an evidently hellish jail. Once out, he jogs to a nearby junkyard, hops in a classic souped-up muscle car, loads a gun or two and pulls out a handy cut-out-and-keep list of target names. These are the folks who put him and jail. He's waited a long time for this, etc, etc.


Elsewhere, Billy Bob Thornton is vintage Billy Bob as the sleazy, drunken cop on our guy’s tail. Carla Guigino strides about as a tough police lady and Oliver Jackson-Cohen is a sleek hired hit man.

Sketched out in minimal comic book tableaux and never inclined to use dialogue when a raised eyebrow or car chase will do just as well, Faster thus offers such memorably trashy moments as Maggie Grace pulling guns from her wedding garter and a Mexican standoff at an old-time Nevada revival tent. A white trash cousin to Jason Statham’s geezer fu movies, this is no-nonsense, high- octane and as speedy as the title dares to suggest.

As in all good wrestling matches, the principals are designated with introductory inter-titles such as “Killer” or “Cop”. Evil-doers are duly punished.

The Rock, meanwhile, lets his miffed expression and jail-yard- friendly physique do the work. He’s Point Blanker. He’s The Man With Even Fewer Names. He’s entitled to have a little fun with rippling muscles and fast cars.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic