LOS ANGELES — Billy Bob Thornton isn’t exactly pleased with what’s been coming out of Hollywood lately, and that’s putting it lightly.
“In our current state of affairs, especially in the entertainment business, we’re living in a time when we’re making — in my humble opinion — the worst movies in history,” Thornton says.
“They’re geared toward the video game-playing generation. And these video games, which I’m on my son about constantly, these games are people killing for fun, and I think traditionally in movies, there’s always been some kind of lesson in the violent movies.”
It’s that idea of a lesson that drew him to his latest film, Faster, a violent tale of an ex-con (Dwayne Johnson) on a bloody quest for revenge against the people who set him up. Thornton stars as a heavily flawed cop on his trail.
“This movie doesn’t say, ‘Oh, here’s this fun guy and we’re going to do this tongue-in-cheek character right out of a video game who likes to destroy things’ and all this kind of thing. This movie actually shows what prisons create, what murder creates. It shows this perpetual, violent string of events,” he says.
Thornton’s character, simply named Cop in the film, has plenty of issues, including a drug problem and an ex-wife threatening to strip him of custody to their son.
“One of the flaws in most commercial action movies is that the characters are usually not very developed,” Thornton says. “A lot of times you’ll have the movie star hero and then some bad guys who are just there to be killed by the hero, and they’re nameless, faceless people. And as a result, you’re usually not afraid of them because you don’t see them ask somebody to pass the salt, you don’t see them with their kids.”
Another aspect that drew him to Faster was the lack of computer effects, giving the film an almost retro feel.
“Most movies are about vampires and 3-D or fantasy movies and war eagles and all these kinds of things, or whatever they are,” he says. “But this movie did not rely on computers and things like that. People are saying it was like a ’70s movie. It kind of is. It does have a contemporary feel because of the editing and all this kind of stuff, the sound design. But, at the same time, it is a real movie. If we’re chasing each other down a hallway, it’s a hallway.”
As for Thornton’s video game-playing son, the actor does claim some culpability.
“He’s not so bad about it, just every now and then I’ll see one that’s like, ‘What’s this?’ You know?” Thornton says. “And then I find out that it’s something some company I worked for on a movie, they sent him all of these, and I’m like, ‘Wow.’”