Movie Review: Machine Gun Kelly’s on the lam and on a bus, late night — “One Way” ticket

A tattooed, pink-haired punk scrambles onto an inter-city bus, still bleeding from his latest piercing — a bullet wound to the gut.

It’ll be all right, Freddy assures his fevered pal JJ. Meet me at the bus station in Lake City. He’s got the drugs. He’s got the cash. He has a pistol.

But the low-heat panic in both their voices rises an octave when they figure out that Mac, their third musketeer, has been grabbed by the gangster Vic. Freddy fills the night with frantic phone calls from his two phones — to JJ, to buck him up, dodging incoming threats from Vic, begging for help from his baby mama and his ex-con Dad.

Whatever JJ’s prospects, Freddy is in a panic that this bus ticket from (I guess) Jacksonville to Lake City to Valdosta and Cairo (Ga.) is only going “One Way.”

A lean, somewhat tense going-into-shock blur of a film noir, “One Way” is measurably simpler and better than director Andrew Baird’s previous outing behind the camera, a cheesy “Blade Runner” impersonation titled “Zone 414.”

The entire story’s basically on a bus, with hazy flashbacks, Freddy (Colson Baker) bleeding and calling his nurse/ex Christine (Meagan Holder) who takes his calls while racing down hospital corridors pushing a gurney to an O.R., calming biz partner JJ (Luis Da Silva Jr.) down as he chases the bus in his Camaro for this planned meet-up/pick-up, or that one.

The calls to a beat-up trailer in BFE, Georgia aren’t getting Freddy anywhere. His old man (Kevin Bacon) is a drawling ex-con with no driving privileges and just enough knowledge of the nature of Freddy’s trouble to be worthy of his nickname — “Ass—e.”

And then there’s the deadly Vic (Drea de Matteo), closing in on them all, torturing JJ and Freddy’s third partner and hellbent on getting her drugs and her money back.

But things aren’t nearly so cut-and-dried on the bus. There’s this pesky girl (Storm Reid) who seems to have her own phone, but who keeps begging to borrow one of Freddy’s to call some guy she’s traveling to meet.

“How OLD are you?” gets a lot of different answer from her every time she opens her mouth.

At one stop, a stranger gets on (Travis Fimmel) and gets in Freddy’s business. As Freddy drifts in and out of shock, he keeps muttering this mantra, sometimes on the phone to his ex, sometimes to himself.

“I’m doin’ this for Lily.”

Baird, working from a Ben Conway screenplay, keeps things basic and still manages to struggle with coherence and clarity. Mumbled dialogue, hallucinations of characters we can’t quite identify, the torrent of phone calls and the “complications” presented by the shifting dynamics on board the bus make this movie more “lean” than “clean.”

Baker, aka “Machine Gun Kelly,” has basically two notes to play all the way through this, which renders the performance “authentic” without being all that compelling. Yeah, we know Freddy “took something that doesn’t belong to me.” We kind of want more than that, more than him getting involved in the drama the girl who keeps borrowing his phone generates.

“One Way” takes on the tenor of a droning bus trip, with little flashes of fear, dreamed accounts of how he got here and long, fuzzy and dull interludes between them.

Yes, it’s better than “Zone 414.” Baird, and his sometimes muse Fimmel, are heading in the right direction. But this more tight if a tad tedious thriller doesn’t quite finish the trip or seal the deal.

Rating: R, graphic violence, drug abuse, profanity

Cast: Colson Baker, Drea de Matteo, Storm Reid, Meagan Holder, Travis Fimmel and Kevin Bacon

Credits: Directed by Andrew Baird, scripted by Ben Conway. A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:35

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.