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In "Faster," the action shoot-'em-up is stripped down to its bare essentials and then some. The main characters don't even have names, just archetypal job titles. It starts with Driver (Dwayne Johnson), just released from prison after a 10-year sentence for bank robbery, and eager for revenge on the crooks who ambushed him and murdered his crew, including his older brother. While Driver tracks them down and kills the crooks, a cop labeled Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) follows the trail of bodies, and a suave contract hitman known only as Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is hired to take down Driver. The script, by brothers Tony and Joe Gayton, makes up for the lack of names with an overabundance of other Screenwriting 101 traits: Cop is a (mostly) cleaned-up heroin addict battling his ex-wife (Moon Bloodgood), while Killer is considering chucking the business to marry his girlfriend (Maggie Grace). The result is a mishmash of bloody action and talky exposition, and director George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food," "Notorious") never finds a coherent balance.

Sean P. Means HH


Opens Wednesday, Nov. 24, at theaters everywhere; R for strong violence, some drug use and language; 98 minutes.