Movie review: Gasoline Alley is a lazy, ugly thriller that furthers the sad decline of Bruce Willis’ career
Another day, another Bruce Willis direct-to-DVD effort that continues the strange and sad decline of his career. In tune with the last dozen or so efforts he’s sleepwalked into (meaning if he decides to show up for filming that day), Willis barely fits into gasoline alleythe fourth collaboration with the director Edward Drake (cosmic sin, Mountain peak, US Headquarters), a crime thriller that cannot escape the ugliness of its premise.
Really, even allowing it to be called a “mystery” thriller gives the movie too much credence, as Drake doesn’t seem keen on covering up the guilt of its obvious villain, apparently more invested in giving himself a pat on the back for his meta. inclusion of one of his own films (US Headquarters) being used as a plot setting as suspect Jimmy (Devon Sawathe only actor who really cares about the craft) travels through Los Angeles in an effort to clear his name.
Jimmy, you see, has a criminal past, and he gets involved with the nice prostitute Star (Irina Antonenko) just hours before his death means Detectives Freeman (Willis) and Vargas (Luke Wilson, aware of the type of film he’s in, so delivers with flair accordingly) are on his case. The movie would like us to suspect Jimmy, but it frames him so obviously that we know he’s the only character we can trust, and because Sawa delivers the only performance worth investing in, there is interest, however minor, as he goes it alone. investigation.
Over the course of 97 minutes, Jimmy encounters various types of bums (all completely indistinguishable from each other) in his quest to prove his innocence. If Sawa had benefited from a better script and better direction, you can almost imagine a passable film being made in the process. He works so far beyond his requirements that it only heightens Willis’ genuine disinterest and Drake’s utter disregard for continuity; note that if you are going to be filming in Georgia and passing it off as Los Angeles, be sure to remove the visual signs of the city from your final product.
It’s a real shame that whatever Willis gets attached to at this point is almost immediately ignored – unless, of course, you’re watching for the involuntary laughter – and while gasoline alley is not a characteristic of Willis, his presence will drive people away, and rightly so. It’s ultimately a shame for an actor like Sawa, someone who has consistently delivered great performances in many under-seen projects and deserves his own spotlight in something, anything, that treats him with respect which Drake so clearly does not return.
ONE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
gasoline alley premieres in select theaters, digital and on-demand in the United States from February 25, 2022. It will be available to rent and/or purchase on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia from April 6, 2022.