One Way is one of those low budget gritty crime thrillers that tries to do so much, you kinda wish it did something else. Much of the movie is set on a passenger bus which could have been used well and has, such as in Speed. But here, you can tell it was used because of budgetary restraints.
Freddy Sullivan (Colson Baker, aka Machine Gun Kelly) is a petty criminal who boards the bus in northern Florida as it’s set to end at some small town in southern Georgia. Needless to say, One Way is another movie to take advantage of the Georgia Film Commission, which means, it throws out random Georgia towns no one (not even people in Georgia) have heard of it. (I’m wondering if part of the requirements to get the tax incentive is to randomly drop Georgia town names because the tourism department wants people to go there. Much of 2019’s sci-fi action thriller Gemini Man took place in Glennville, Ga., which surprised me because why set a sci-fi/action thriller in a jerkwater town like Glennville, Ga. Tax incentives?)
I’m guessing the movie starts out in Gainesville, Fla. or a northern suburb because Patrick (Thomas Francis Murphy), the bus driver, says the bus will me making stops in Lake City, Fla., then Valdosta, Ga. and ending in Cairo, Ga. There’s only a handful of people on the bus as Freddy boards because the budget couldn’t pay for any other actors. There’s two black guys who sit at the back of the bus and seem to spend their whole time perpetuating stereotypes of black men being mean and thuggish.
There’s also Helen (K.D. O’Hair) who spends much of the movie trying to sleep. I can’t blame her. The plot is a snoozer. She has a few lines criticizing Freddy for talking keeping her awake. Then theres Rachel (Storm Reid), who nags Freddy for a good bit on wanting to use his phone to contact her “boo” but it’s actually someone named “Smokey” she’s set to meet. Rachel initially says she’s 21, but then says she’s 19 and finally 14. She’s on her way to hook up with some guy.
Freddy has been shot in the stomach and stolen a lot of money belonging to crime queenpin, Victoria Menendez (Drea de Matteo), whose goons seem to be following the bus as well as an associate Freddy is trying to meet up with in Lake City. Of course, Freddy doesn’t get off the bus because he spots the goons who even though are driving a normal speed limit, are able to drive hundreds of miles in a short amount of time.
As for Victoria, she seems to be able to torture two people at an undisclosed location and still make it to Cairo before the bus does. Maybe she has a private plane or to paraphrase the line from the the Cheech and Chong Santa Claus skit, she “took the freeway.” Freddy also manages to call his estranged father, Fred (Kevin Bacon), for help. Fred is supposed to be the crime boss of Valdosta, Ga. This movie drops so many town names you’d think it was produced by Florida Georgia Line.
Fred manages to get on the bus at a point in Valdosta, I guess. Most of the scenery looks like it was filmed on desolate country roads. The movie was filmed during the winter of 2021 in southern Georgia around Thomasville. Freddy is also trying to get his estranged ex-wife, Christine (Meagan Holder), to meet up with him somewhere to fix his wounds, even thoiugh he’s losing blood. He’s got a rare blood that only Fred matches.
There’s also a strange person, Will (Travis Fimmel), who claims to work for social services, who gets on the bus at one stop and notices the odd behavior between Freddy and Rachel. One Way was released about a month after Bullet Train and you can clearly see that it’s a poor man’s knock-off of better gritty action thrillers. Bullet Train was silly and had the same running gag of Brad Pitt’s character not able to get off at a stop. But at least it was thrilling despite the muddled story. I felt a sense of escapism.
Here there never is a sense of the claustrophobia the bus should convey. I give director Andrew Baird credit for working with Ben Conway’s script but it just throws characters on a bus without any concern how they could get there or why. Even worse, you know exactly where the movie is headed so like Helen, you can sleep through most of it and not miss much.
What do you think? Please comment.