One Way, 2022.
Directed by Andrew Baird.
Starring Colson Baker, Storm Reid, Drea de Matteo, Travis Fimmel, Kevin Bacon, Luis Da Silva Jr., Meagan Holder, Rhys Coiro, Kendall Dugan, Danny Bohnen, Scotty Bohnen, Casie Baker, and Thomas Francis Murphy.
On the run with a bag full of cash after a robbing his former crime boss—and a potentially fatal wound—Freddy slips onto a bus headed into the unrelenting California desert. With his life slipping through his fingers, Freddy is left with very few choices to survive.
Singer/songwriter Machine Gun Kelly is credited by his birth name, Colson Baker, in One Way. And while I don’t want to make the baseless claim that this is the first time it has happened in a movie, it feels appropriate here as it’s also the first time his branch into acting has resulted in a compelling turn worthy of the term “actor”.
Here, he plays Freddy, a lifelong criminal on the run with hefty amounts of cocaine and cash. He’s a man that will be the first in line to own up to his mistakes, wishing he was a more respectable father and husband to his young daughter (Casie Baker) and nurse girlfriend (Meagan Holder) rather than a directionless hooligan and extension of his dad (played by Kevin Bacon and referred to as Asshole).
Freddy has stolen these illicit goods from his ruthless boss Vic (Drea de Matteo). The plan has gone sideways before the movie begins, with Freddy also bleeding out from a gunshot wound and his trusty friend JJ (Luis Da Silva Jr.) held hostage by those they have betrayed. In the process, Freddy wants out of this lifestyle to deliver the money to his family, secretly getting a transfusion procedure from his estranged girlfriend, who rummages around searching around for the right blood.
While hiding the blood, Freddy boards a one-way bus for safety and to plan out his next move. One might presume that One Way will turn into a generic action flick trying to make a badass out of Colson Baker, but nearly all of the narrative has him sitting down, continuously losing a concerning amount of blood, and making phone calls to anyone who will listen regarding escaping danger (Freddy also has a rare blood type, which is how his abrasive and nasty father enters the mix).
It’s a performance of injured suffering that Colson Baker often sells to the degree of unintelligible dialogue, which is frustrating yet immersive. There’s also gritty energy to Andrew Baird’s direction that’s more in line with the propulsive energy of his heavy metal band Avenged 7X music videos rather than his limp sci-fi imitations.
The script from Ben Conway is mostly familiar and struggles to flesh out some characters, but earns praise for bringing aboard Storm Reid on the bus playing Rachel, a runaway minor claiming to be 21, casually asking to use Freddy’s burner phone to communicate back and forth with Smokie, an older man she is headed toward. Soon after, social worker Will (Travis Fimmel) boards the bus, setting the stage for a completely different story at play.
As a result, it’s easily forgiven that much of the background gang material is shoved aside, considering One Way becomes a moral tale for Freddy, looking out for this girl and advising against her poor decision-making even when it conflicts with his priorities. There is also a clever juxtaposition between the dynamics between Rachel/Smokie and Freddy/Vic.
Admittedly, logic is thrown out the window (the bus driver never notices any blood, which conveniently never drips anywhere, hardly anyone is kicked out for arguing and physical altercations, and it’s difficult to buy into anyone, let alone a minor, taking a bus to meet someone she has never seen a picture or video of before), but One Way mitigates that with some solid, tense direction and impressive acting turns (primarily from an ensemble of rising stars).
Congratulations, Colson Baker/Machine Gun Kelly; you won me over, and I’m sincerely curious where your acting career takes you next
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]