and sometimes poetry

Faster (2010) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

We were the only people at the 10:25 showing of Faster. There wasn’t even a sign above the theater, just a Word doc printed out and stuck on the door, announcing the times of the non-3D Tangled and, below that, the lone showing of the long awaited tri-cornered death match between Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, and some British guy with three names and a serious Jake Gyllenhaal lip curl. We took a picture of it with our phone and sent it to Mark, who was in the bathroom. He got the text before he saw the sign, and then when he saw the sign, he took another picture of it, on his phone. I believe there is a giant metaphor lurking inside that anecdote that might simultaneously explain Faster and our reasons for going to see Faster—something about unmediated experience, aura in the age of technological innovation, and the thrill of watching Dwayne Johnson’s disproportions on a big screen. I don’t know. Faster made us wish Cinemark at Hadley Mall’d had their shit together and released The Fighter last weekend instead of The Tourist. Then we could have been watching Mark Whalberg’s balloon-trick pectorals instead of Dwayne Johnson’s. The Fighter is going to be a profound and moving cinematic experience best summarized in one word: boxing-family-drama. Faster,on the other hand, was banal and tedious for a host of reasons, including—but not limited to—a paucity of action sequences and a dumpster’s worth of subplots. For example: voyeurism, kiddie porn, pathological anxiety and its treatment, Evangelicalism, heroin addiction, bi-racialism, yoga, fat unattractive children, deep brotherly love, sex after 50, wayward boys, wedding jitters, father-son dynamics shit all find a place in this movie.

Faster wants to say something important about fate. Imagine we actually live on a Cartesian coordinate plane. The x axis has always struck me as the most cozy and reliable, so let’s say we’re all cruising out there at like x=y + 45. A good solid straight line; but then there’s also somebody going sideways at y=x + 45. They’re headed right towards us! And further, there is someone from our heroin-and-police-informant days shooting straight out of z=0, the black hole of our past, waiting to intersect with us, and y, in a horror of pounding synth and screeching tires and faded desert landscapes. This is both the world in which Faster exists, and the world in which we existed watching Faster. Do we really think we are all bound inextricably to our destinies? That we choose paths upon which we must tread heavily, solemnly, with the barest minimum of delight or facial expression? Do we meet who we meet for a reason, or do we in some way choose—though we do not know it’s choice we’re doing—to meet them? Are we here for a reason, and will our death matter? We discover, not as a result of watching Faster, that the hypothetical-religious “supposed to” comes in handiest at moments of great sorrow and joy. We are where we have taken ourselves: if it has been no more deliberate than that, so what? When one has a series of small but potent miseries behind them, and yet the sky looks bright ahead, well then this is a time in which the machinations of fate seem not to matter one bit. After all, if it’s all preordained, how do we forgive? For forgiveness is the other rusty wheel turning Faster its half-inch. Dwayne Johnson listens to a lot of Christian radio towards the end of this movie, in preparation for an important scene with someone from his past. The scene happens and all the talk about redemption and forgiveness is there and then Billy Bob Thornton shoots him but (spoiler alert) he doesn’t die. Because he has a metal plate in his head. That is the last line of the movie, Dwayne Johnson holding up a piece of metal and saying “Metal Plate” while Billy Bob’s career seeps out from behind his greasy, thinning hair on the shores of some lake with a revival tent fluttering in the background. The metal plate got installed the last time Billy Bob tried to shoot Dwayne Johnson. There is no rhyme or reason to any of this. Or rather is there too much. The snow has come and winter will soon cover every bit of life. “The riddle of the age has for each a private solution,” our beloved Emerson says. We think we are pretty sure Faster was not actually a riddle, nor a metaphor, not even really an anecdote. It was however a solution: we are now one day closer to The Fighter coming out.

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