Desperate times call for desperate measures.

That’s the adage at the heart of “Desperation Road,” a tension-building thriller that brings together a group of people who have few choices left as their lives spiral downward.

‘Desperation Road’ (IMDb)

Maben (Willa Fitzgerald, “Wildcat”) has taken off on foot with her little girl to get to Mississippi. After she has a ghastly run-in with a law-enforcement officer, she has even more reason to run.

This time, though, she has a gun.

Meanwhile, Russell (Garrett Hedlund, “Reservation Dogs”) has returned home after a prison sentence. He can’t relax because a couple of brothers continue to torment him. He is reassured by his old friend from high school Boyd (Woody McClain,) who is now a sheriff’s deputy.

Boyd remains suspicious about Russell, especially now that he’s on a case that occurred about the same time Russell came back to town.

Russell goes to stay outside of town with his father Michael (Mel Gibson.)

Once the setup to this southern noir-ish drama is given, you know the characters soon will cross paths, and that the consequences could be dire for more than one of them.

Believe or not, this is a kinda/sorta faith-based film, with its themes of repentance and forgiveness. It also contains some action that helps the tension build with every scene. Director Nadine Crocker does a terrific job, coaxing excellent performances out of the entire ensemble.

Haim Mazur’s score is beautiful, adding both to the tension and glimmers of hope as the characters make their way toward both loss and redemption.

Grownups who liked Gibson’s prior recent outing “Dragged Across Concrete,” or any number of other gritty thrillers, will enjoy this well-written tale of down-and-out characters.

3 stars

Running time: One hour and 52 minutes.

Rated: R for foul language, violence, and nudity.

Available for rent or purchase on prime video, Vudu, and Apple TV.

Watch the trailer here.