Dabble in a life of crime, and bad news follows wherever you go. In Edward Drake‘s thriller, Gasoline Alley, Devon Sawa plays Jimmy, an ex-con turned tattoo artist. Now tasting the fresh air of freedom, he has a shot at love with Hollywood escort Christine (Kat Foster). But in this noir thriller, the good life is always just out of reach.
Jimmy’s world is turned on its head when Christine and two other escorts are found murdered in a seedy hotel. Because she was carrying a lighter he gave her engraved with his tattoo shop, Gasoline Alley, printed on it and his criminal record, Jimmy is the prime suspect. As such, the lead detectives on the case, Freddy Vargas (Luke Wilson) and Bill Freeman (Bruce Willis), will not cut the ex-con a break. To Vargas and Freeman, Jimmy is either Christine’s killer or in league with the ones who committed it.
With nothing else going for him, Jimmy is determined to prove his innocence and find justice for the love of his life. But, as he starts looking for clues, he uncovers a vast conspiracy and attracts the attention of the wrong people. At the same time, Jimmy has to stay ahead of Vargas and Freeman, who are just waiting for the chance to arrest him.
The throughline of Gasoline Alley is Jimmy. We follow his every step walking down the rabbit hole of a very deep conspiracy, and the closer he gets, the more unwanted attention he receives from the bad guys. Director Edward Drake keeps the thrills moving by alternating an interrogation or conversation with an action set piece be it a car chase, fist fight, or gunplay.
“Jimmy’s world is turned on its head when Christine and two other escorts are found murdered in a seedy hotel.”
Sawa pretty much carries the film as Jimmy’s on-screen 90% of the time. There’s a noir element that I liked with repeated callbacks to Jimmy’s initial conversation with escort/crush Christine. No, not in the way The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects did as a single burst of memories ending with a big reveal, but as a series of moments that spurs Jimmy to the next clue.
While we’re talking about noir, one trope I wish was included in Gasoline Alley was the tried and true first-person narration from the main character. It accomplishes a few things right off the bat. First, it’d get us emotionally involved with Jimmy sooner, which would help with his ultimate fate in the end. Secondly, it’s a great way to get more backstory without a forced conversation. Finally, it would also let us in on his delicate state as a washed-up tattoo artist and clue us in to his obsession with solving Christine’s murder.
We’ve also got two heavy hitters with Luke Wilson and Bruce Willis as the homicide detectives relentlessly standing over Jimmy’s shoulder. Wilson’s Vargas aggressively goes after him, interrupting every moment he has to relax. As Freeman, Willis plays second banana to Vargas’ antics, mostly agreeing and mirroring his actions. But, have no fear, he eventually gets his moment.
In Gasoline Alley, Devon Sawa shines as the down-on-his-luck ex-con in the relentless pursuit of justice and freedom. Though the production values are small, this indie thriller manages to pack a lot of action for a laid-back movie night.
"…Sawa shines as the down-on-his-luck ex-con..."
[…] Supply hyperlink […]