David Prendeville gets caught up in Dubliner Andrew Baird’s US thriller, which boasts some serious Irish talent.
Freddy (Baker) is on the run having stolen cash and cocaine from formidable gang kingpin Vic (de Matteo). He also has a bullet lodged in his stomach and is in dire need of a blood transfusion. With gangsters on his trail and him losing blood by the second, Freddy will endure the bus journey from hell, where he also encounters a teenage runaway Rachel (Reid), who reminds Freddy of his own daughter and comes to symbolise his failings.
This rollicking crime thriller by Dubliner Andrew Baird, moves at a relentless pace and proves entirely engrossing over the course of its tight 95-minute runtime. While the film was shot in the US, it features a slew of Irish talent behind the camera to go along with Baird – producers Martin Brennan and Tim Palmer, screenwriter Ben Conway and editor John Walters to name but some.
This is Baird’s second feature film, having directed the Guy Pearce-starring sci-fi thriller Zone 414 in 2021. Here he utilises restless, kinetic cinematography, hazy neon lighting and evocative use of sound and music to really put us in the position of his protagonist Freddy. Baird’s mixing of a somewhat realist form with more stylised flourishes, aided by Walters’ polished cutting and Sempi’s vibrant lensing, all adds up to create a visceral, cinematic experience.
Baird also draws exemplary performances from his stellar cast. Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly, shows he is a decidedly capable actor with a tremendously natural and charismatic performance. Reid is also excellent, bringing great pathos and sincerity to her role. The two actors fire-off one another in a terrific manner. One suspects this film is set to launch Baker as a formidable acting talent, while Reid’s precocious star quality is evident for all to see. In the supporting roles, Fimmel is insidiously creepy as a dubiously motivated bus passenger, Bacon has a lot of fun as Freddy’s chronically bad father and it’s great to see Drea de Matteo, of The Sopranos fame, back on screen again, playing a villain with a refreshing amount of complexity around her.
Conway, who previously wrote the hugely enjoyable one-take thriller Nightride, released earlier this year, has crafted a smart, engaging script. You can sense he relishes playing around with genre conventions and homages to other films. The image of Freddy writhing around with a bullet lodged in his stomach for the entirety of the film conjures up memories of Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs, while the high-concept nature of the film’s bus setting calls to mind Speed.
These aren’t just empty references though, Conway is imaginative in how he mixes various tropes and homages together to create something fresh. He and Baird are also daring as to where they take the film thematically. Despite the film’s structure working like that of a rollercoaster ride, the film touches upon some dark and surprising issues as it progresses.
This is a highly entertaining, slick piece of film-making. It’s great to see Irish talent working on such a big scale with such big names. Well worth seeking out.
One Way is available now to rent or buy on iTunes and other digital platforms.
Dir: Andrew Baird. Pro: Martin Brennan, Nathan Klingher, Tim Palmer, Jib Polhemus, Ryan Donnell Smith, Ryan Winterstern. Wri: Ben Conway. DOP: Tobia Sempi. Des: Tim Lisowski. Ed: John Walters. Mus: Raffertie. CAST: Colson Baker, Storm Reid, Drea de Matteo, Kevin Bacon, Travis Fimmell.