Too many ideas a real injustice

Faste r screenwriters Joe and Tony Gayton had three good ideas for movies: Ex-con goes on killing spree to avenge his brother’s murder; drug-addicted cop tries to get his life in order; and bored millionaire becomes a killer for hire.

Too bad they tried to put all three in one film.

Director George Tillman Jr. never does find an interesting way to intertwine the three stories, leaving the tale of justice and injustice disjointed and disappointing.

Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson plays Driver, a mountain of hate who’s spent 10 years in prison planning how to kill those responsible for his brother’s death. This is the kind of role Johnson was born to play — Driver has little to say and a lot of killing to do.

For the film to work, the audience has to get behind the reason for the brutal acts of vengeance. The Gaytons spend more time on the brutality of the character and never fully explore the motivations. Because Johnson’s character is so emotionally uneven, he doesn’t seem much better than those on the deathly end of his gun. That leaves the audience having to accept that one criminal killing another is part of some greater good.

Billy Bob Thornton plays the cop trying to stop Driver. The problem? He’s got more issues than the hate-filled con. He’s a burned-out detective in the final days of his career who is trying to save his failing marriage. No one plays burned-out characters better than Thornton. Unfortunately, the screen time he gets feels too limited for a role that is so deep and complicated.

The weakest storyline is Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a millionaire so bored with life the only challenge left is to be a hired assassin. Unlike Driver, Killer’s motivation is the rush he gets at completing what others deem impossible. Maggie Grace plays his girlfriend. She’s so understanding that she helps him pack his weapons for the next job. Because there’s not enough time to develop this couple, the pair look more like the stars of a B-grade TV series than a serious part of this action movie.

Tillman needed to create a better blend of these stories. His final product is like watching three race cars speeding around three different courses. Knowing they will never spectacularly crash together takes away a lot of the excitement.


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