film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Gasoline Alley 2022 * * 1/2 Stars


Sometimes the script is a little corny and sometimes the music doesn't always fit the cuts but make no bones about it, 2022's Gasoline Alley is at certain points, compelling. That's thanks to a disciplined performance by one Devon Sawa. Here's a working actor who knows he's been relegated to B-movies and non-theatrical releases till the end of time. What does Devon do? Well he trudges along, brooding and world-weary like a Philip Marlowe type (except that his persona Jimmy Jayne is a prime murder suspect and not a real PI). Sawa carries Gasoline Alley because well, he's in pretty much every frame. The other characters are tough-talking and sardonic but seem to fade in and out like wipes. 

That being said, let's talk about the tone of Gasoline Alley, a film that shows another dark corner of otherwise sunny LA. "Alley" is directed by Edward Drake, a guy who commits to every shot with most of his drawn-out scenes being rather underlit. I suppose that's the overall point. "Alley" is noir, so much so that the flick almost announces it as if it had personalized name tags. Gleaming and steamy with even a little twang, Gasoline Alley looks like something Paul Schrader would have done right after Hardcore. Heck, you could even compare "Alley" to 2005's Sin City minus the over-sensationalized violence and color processing.  

Now did I like Gasoline Alley with its plot about a tattoo artist being implicated in a triple murder? Sometimes yeah. I mean it got better as it went along with Sawa being the sort of snarling antihero with a rather large chip on his shoulder. And did I like the fact that Bruce Willis and Luke Wilson played good cop, bad cop detectives hot on the trail of Devon's Jimmy? Not really. Luke Wilson talked too much and tried to be cool while Willis didn't talk enough and only showed up in the film's final twist to give his character relevance (hint, hint). 

Gasoline Alley with its drinking and smoking and hardboiled ambiguity, is decent enough to stream. Even so, its surprisingly restrained manner and one-note-ness kept me from truly recommending it. The pic needed a little more "fuel" poured on its fire. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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