Trouble often comes in threes. It can sometimes comes in more increments than that and it can come fast and it can come furiously. It especially can come to those who are good deep down, people who have nothing but the best interests of their friends and families in mind. The new British thriller Bypass presents this dilemma to its viewers and it is a bleak and sobering look at the limits one man will go to provide for those he loves. Director Duane Hopkins, who gave us another depressing look at the British middle class in 2008’s Better Things, continues to provide a dark outlook in his premise and a story which is full of constant misery.
Bypass focuses on Tim (George Mackay), a young middle-classer who lives with his older criminal brother Greg (Ben Dilloway) and his younger sister, who doesn’t seem to care about much. Tim dabbles in the same crimes Greg participates in, only to earn the scorn of those involved. With money tight and his life threatened, Tim seems to be on a fast track to hell. That is until his girlfriend Lilly (Charlotte Spencer) informs him that she’s pregnant. Now, poor Tim must make tough decisions that concern everyone he holds dear. Donald Sumpter also provides a very effective supporting role.
Tim’s journey in righting his wrongs is a powerful one and it is performed by 21-year-old George Mackay, a gifted young actor who had a strong role in last year’s gay rights dramedy Pride and who has certainly been on the film radar within the last decade with great work in movies like Defiance and How I Live Now. His boyish good looks and sincere innocence are quickly making him the “British boy next door” and his acting chops are nothing short of terrific.
The other star of Bypass is director Duane Hopkins, who has a firm grasp of the art of filmmaking. His unpretentious moments of slow motion and lens flares may distract some but they actually provide for a dreamlike and at times, rather surreal motion picture experience. His real skill comes to the forefront in the final sequence, where Tim is evading the police. Here we get shaky camerawork and absolute grit, which only enhances the tension and makes for some very riveting action. Hopefully Mr. Hopkins will delve into other genres, say science fiction because he definitely knows what he’s doing behind the camera.
Few films manage to match the intensity of the last 10 minutes of Bypass, which has Tim running from the local authorities. His on-foot evasion is captured brilliantly by Hopkins and executed flawlessly by Mackay. This action sequence is among the best of 2015 so far and it will definitely be hard to top. Bypass may not be a perfect film but it does contain moments of greatness. Most likely ending up on Netflix Instant as a late night option, it is a dark film that will certainly get your blood pumping. That and young George Mackay proves how strong of a thespian he is.