Saturday, April 04, 2015

Driver's Out To Do A Little Killing

I could talk about the 1937 version of The Prisoner of Zenda, or I could talk about Cat Ballou, but no, I'm gonna talk about the Dwayne Johnson/Billy Bob Thornton movie Faster. That decision probably doesn't say anything good about me. Maybe I'll get to those others some later day.

OK, Faster. The Rock served as a getaway driver (and he's given the name "Driver") for his brother on a bank heist, but a bunch of other crooks jumped them at their safe house and killed everyone involved (except the Rock), then took the money. They tried killing the Rock, but the bullet hit the back of his skull and went around the side of his head and out his cheek. He survived, went to prison, did his time, and now is out. . . for vengeance.

I wonder about the feasibility of the "bullet goes around the outside of the skull" thing. You see it often enough in stories - Denny O'Neill and Denys Cowan used it in their Question series, to name one - I assume there must be some truth behind the idea. It's just hard to believe, but I guess it depends on the caliber, type of bullet, the angle of entry, how much bone mass you have.

Driver is pretty much not concerned at all with being observed, only with killing dudes. He walks into an office building, walks right up to the first guy, and shoots him square in the forehead, in front of a couple dozen office workers, and on camera. In spite of that, the police are having no success finding him, especially since they don't know who specifically Driver's gunning for. But someone knows, because they've hired a killer (called Killer, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Pity poor Billy Bob (known only as Cop), 10 days away from retirement, struggling with drug addiction, and an ex-wife who wants no part of him.

So Driver is the central character, but there's not a lot to him. Whatever he was before his brother died is largely irrelevant. He is focused on finding and killing these guys, and it seems about all he can do to not flip out and kill anyone who remotely delays him from that purpose. But that makes for a contrast between him, Killer, and Cop. Killer is a former software start-up king, who has remade his body after some childhood ailment (polio maybe, he had leg braces), and became a killer, essentially as a challenge. He has a gorgeous girlfriend he wants to marry, and yet, he kills people for money, out of boredom. He's in search of a direction and purpose, set against someone with nothing but a purpose. Then you have Cop, who seems to just want to make it to retirement with his full benefits, so he can use it as lever to convince the ex to take him back.  He's a wreck of a specimen, sharply different from the massive bulk of Driver, or Killer, who is supposed to be in ludicrous shape (he claims he's mastered yoga poses only 10 people in the world can do). He seems like his only goal is to survive, and so hardly seems to fit. He even has a brief shootout in a hallway with Driver, which goes very differently from Killer's earlier hallway shootout with Driver.

One of the guys Driver's hunting has turned to religion out of regret for his actions. There's always that one guy in these stories, trying to make amends through Gawd. I guess it's a credit to the film that I had no idea whether he'd kill the guy or not. That seems like a good thing, Driver is supposed to be almost single-mindedly focused on this, so it should be difficult to tell how far he'll go.

Faster isn't a great film, but I like how focused it is. It's about these three guys, and any fleshing out of other characters is just to flesh out those three, to compare and contrast. It's a little surprising with a main character called Driver, there aren't many car chases. Just one, and it's short. The violence is preordained, so it's more about the moments before, the reflection on the decisions that brought them there.


SallyP said...

But... but I love Cat Ballew!

CalvinPitt said...

I think I will talk about it her eventually, maybe this weekend. It was not exactly what I expected going in.