After 10 years in prison, Driver (Johnson) has a singular focus – to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched bank robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man with a deadly to-do list in hand, he’s finally on his mission…but with two men on his trail – a veteran cop (Thornton) just days from retirement, and a young egocentric hitman (Jackson-Cohen) with a flair for the art of killing and a newfound worthy opponent. The hunter is also the hunted. It’s a do or die race to the list’s finish as the mystery surrounding his brother’s murder deepens, and new details emerge along the way hinting that Driver’s list may be incomplete.
It was a fateful day a few years ago when writer/producer Tony Gayton approached his brother, and “Faster” co-writer, Joe Gayton with the thread of an idea. “I remember imagining a guy in prison on the day of his release getting a speech from the warden then just breaking into a sprint out of the prison gates and going straight to kill someone,” recalls Tony Gayton. “I liked the idea of this introduction where you have no idea who this guy is. He turns out to be the hero out to get revenge for his brother’s murder but he could very well have turned out to be the bad guy.” On that day, the character that would come to be known simply as ‘Driver’ was born.
“(Driver) is like a shark – he has a clear mission,” notes Joe Gayton who also serves as Executive Producer on the film. “It was apparent at this early stage that his determination would provide for a true, high-octane adventure.” As the screenplay evolved, what emerged was not just an action film but also a character study and exploration into the minds of three men – the other two main characters known simply by the monikers ‘Cop’ and ‘Killer.’ But Driver’s mission was at the story’s core and finding the right actor to portray him would be the first target.
Director George Tillman, Jr. responded to the material as a throwback to action films of the 70s. “70s action films have cool heroes but those same heroes also have a dramatic essence; they are complicated characters. I think audiences today yearn for a more sophisticated action film where they can relate to the characters since people are by nature complicated.”
Producer Bob Teitel had a similar reaction to the material’s nostalgic factor. “It felt like a movie you don’t really see these days – where the lead character has a presence that immediately commands the audience’s attention and they instantly follow him on his journey. It’s only along that journey that the audience learns more about the character.”