For those following Devon Sawa’s mid-life career revival, the seasoned actor has been cranking out some exceptionally good performances in nearly all of his work. Next up, we have hardboiled action thriller Gasoline Alley, which calls upon Sawa to play grizzled tattooist, Jimmy Jayne. If there is one thing I can walk away from this movie knowing without a doubt, it is this: Sawa is the seasoned action crime star I never knew I needed. With a mystery element that is underwhelming and half-baked, Gasoline Alley instead relies on tried and true performances from its cast, as well as a supercharged final act, to carry it across the finish line.
It is just another day in Hollywood, but the dead bodies of four women piled up in a hotel room is anything but normal. After discovering a lighter adorned with the tattoo parlor name, Gasoline Alley, Detectives Freeman (Bruce Willis) and Vargas (Luke Wilson) set out to question Jimmy about his potential involvement. Jimmy admits to knowing one of the women, a beautiful and aspiring actress that went by the name Star (Irina Antonenko). Jimmy’s father, now deceased, was an ex-cop, so Freeman seems to display a level of respect, whilst Vargas comes off aggressive and intimidating. They warn Jimmy against leaving the country, before they finally leave him alone with his wheels metaphorically spinning.
The dark underbelly of Hollywood is explored as Jimmy takes it upon himself to charter up an investigation of his very own. He turns to his brother (and popular actor, Dennis Bourke, played by Kenny Wormald in his first project since 2017’s High Low Forty) for help, who is currently on set filming his show that “makes a dumpster fire look like Citizen Kane.” The mystery snakes to and fro, connecting in unsurprising conspiracy-laden ways. Drug running, police corruption, and trafficking are on the agenda, and don’t forget your daily dose of murder and violence! A focus on the victims of the crimes is welcome, as Star is never forgotten for a second.
We have seen all of this before, and with Bruce Willis in a teeny role as well no less. See: last year’s similar crime/mystery, Midnight in the Switchgrass. Gasoline Alley admittedly does not do much different from one’s typical generic crime-solving—that is, until we reach the film’s home stretch. I think the entire runtime is worth it just to reach the badass moments of Jimmy enacting his own personal brand of vigilante justice. As far as thrillers go, one could do much worse than Gasoline Alley.
Gasoline Alley traffics in audience captivation when it debuts in theaters, Digital, and On Demand on Friday, February 25th.