The movie “Desperation Road” follows Mel Gibson’s character as he continues to seek redemption in a crime-ridden southern town.


Maben (played by Wila Fitzgerald) is down on her luck, without money or a place to live. As a single parent, she arrives in a small town in Mississippi with her seven-year-old daughter Annalee (played by Pyper Braun). It’s unclear why she has come to this particular town, but we eventually discover that Maben has a connection to the place. However, her return is far from pleasant. After checking into a rundown motel and putting her daughter to bed, Maben attempts to solicit sex in the parking lot. This decision leads to a horrific incident where the local sheriff (played by Shiloh Fernandez) not only arrests her, but also rapes her and invites his friends to do the same. From there, Maben’s situation only continues to deteriorate.

In another part of the city, around the same time, recently released prisoner Russell (played by Garrett Hedlund) arrives on the bus and is immediately attacked by local drunkard Larry (Ryan Hurst) and his brother Walt (Michael Aaron Milligan). Larry has not forgiven Russell for something that is later revealed in the second half of the movie. It becomes clear that Russell cannot forgive himself for this, despite his religious father Mitchell (played by the infamous Mel Gibson, who is still trying to redeem himself personally and professionally). Mitchell gives his son two options for housing: an abandoned property in town or living with him on the family farm where he is now with Consuela (Paulina Gálvez), a character who lacks any defining qualities except for her earthy sensuality shown through her peasant blouse and tiered skirt and love for cooking.

The movie is filled with minor characters who are briefly introduced before being pushed aside. These include Larry’s scared ex-wife and angry teenage son, Mitchell’s tearful ex, and Boyd, the other sheriff’s deputy who is constantly worrying about his friend Russell or accusing him of murder. The story is based on a novel by Michael Farris Smith, who is also a producer, which may explain why the script often veers off track to introduce poorly developed secondary characters. The direction by Nadine Crocker lacks authenticity and feels more like a daytime soap opera. However, it must be acknowledged that Hedlund and Fitzgerald deliver strong performances, despite the mediocre film they are a part of.