Review by Dan Skip Allen
Rappers turned actors are nothing new in Hollywood. In fact, some of them, Ice T, Ice Cube, Ludacris, and Queen Latifah, have all turned out to be halfway decent actors. The latest rapper turned actor is Machine Gun Kelly, a white rapper in a business relatively full of Black and Latinos. He hopes to parlay his successful music career into one of acting like so many in the past have. One Way is his ticket to Hollywood.
Freddy (Machine Gun Kelly) has just robbed his boss, who is a gangster, of drugs and money. He tries to escape by taking a bus through North Florida and Georgia. Along the way, he notices he's been shot and needs some attention badly, or he'll die of blood loss. On the bus, he meets a teenage girl Rachel (Storm Reid), who has her own issues to deal with. While on the bus, he uses multiple phones to contact people who might or might not be able to help him get away with the theft.
The film has some notable actors in some prominent roles, such as Kevin Bacon, who plays the Kelly character's coked-up older father, Travis Fimmel (Vikings) as Will, a mysterious loner hiding a secret of his own, and Drea De Mateo (The Sopranos) as Vic, the gangster's right-hand woman trying to get the bag of drugs and money back for him.
Films that use one location such as this to tell their story can be very effective if the characters and said story are engaging to the viewer. This film uses two tools to make this story and its characters interesting: the bus and the phones. Between the two, we, as the viewers, could determine the entire plot of the story and care about the plight of the main characters, played by Kelly and Reid. This is good filmmaking by the director Andrew Baird.
The look of the film was a little shaky, though. The movie was filmed entirely at night on a dark bus. The lighting was used sparingly to create a claustrophobic atmosphere on the bus. Also, the main character crouched down in a lot of pain. Usually, this kind of cinematography wouldn't work for me, but it does work in the context of the film. This dark atmosphere played right into how the story unfolded in front of us.
This film isn't anything different than we've seen before with the single location of the bus and communication between characters via phones. In this context, Kelly was able to shine in the leading role. He used emotions like pain from the blood loss and the love of a family member he couldn't see to drive his performance forward. The other actors helped him, already established stars in their own right. This probably made him more comfortable in his role.
One Way is, in a way, what the title of this film reflects: a one-way ticket forward, not backward. It doesn't have a slow moment in it. From when the main character is introduced, it's full steam ahead for the film and story. The acting is okay by most but fine by Kelly, who is not an actor. The thing about this film that doesn't really do it for me is the overall story and how it's executed. These tropes have been used before and a lot better. The look of the film, which isn't terrible, isn't great either. I understand why they chose this style to make the film. It just didn't blow me away like other films that are similar to this one did.
One Way hits theaters and VOD on September 2.