The explosions, melee combat, and clenched jaws are almost distracting enough to make you ignore the stilted dialogue and its wooden delivery.
“He’s our only shot to fix this thing,” Junior CIA analyst Zoe Anderson said on “One Shot,” and somewhere an angel took his wings, the happy result of not only the film’s title being pronounced in the dialogue, but its very gadget too.
Zoe tries to retrieve information from an inmate at an island prison in the black CIA site – the only one left, she says proudly on arrival – though she is remarkably suspicious of what she needs and why she needs it in Washington, DC. Perhaps she would have been more open if she had known that her visit would coincide with that of the jihadists after the same man, and more than willing to slaughter anyone who stood in their way. Lucky for her – and for this inmate, Mansur – they luckily have as their guide Lieutenant Jake Harris of Navy SEAL, as accomplished as a sniper as he is in melee, and whose hair is perfectly groomed. never move throughout the day. fights and explosions.
Shot in a single continuous take, “One Shot” is director James Nunn and screenwriter Jamie Russell’s effective and bloody addition to the one-take movies subgenre. Lacking the polish of other entries such as “Birdman” and “1917,” “One Shot” feels like a first-person shooter video game with the camera reversed for once. After a brief but stilted exhibition-heavy opening sequence in which Ashley Greene Khoury’s Zoe and Scott Adkins’ Jake meet with ridiculously antagonistic site manager Jack Yorke (Ryan Phillippe, whose volume control appears to have broken during filming somewhere around a constant scream), the film takes it up a notch and proves its raison d’être.
This reason, to be very clear, has nothing to do with the film’s politics – both obscure and simplistic – and everything to do with watching a huge action movie compressed into portable truth. goodness. As the site is violated by a truck full of jihadists, Jake, Zoe and Masur (Waleed Elgadi) set off in search of shelter. And so begins a wave of nausea (all that shaking handheld camera work takes its toll) and pleasure.
“One Shot” runs through the same audience responses with surprising consistency. First of all, there is a feeling of “Wow, what a technical achievement! The amount of work needed not only to get the actors moving, but also to choreograph the explosions and spurts of blood! Then as we start to settle in and take for granted what we’re watching was done in one take, we start to worry about the performers. “I wonder how much he repeated that scroll!” Oh man, I can’t believe he’s carrying this actor on his back now. Has he ever let it down? What do they all do when they’re not in a sequence? Do they stay in character? And then we hit the saturation level that relentless action movies often precipitate, where the still moments are so still, filled with so many bulletproof characters, our attention drift. Until Nunn and his company uplift the tension once again with a massive moment (grenades are few and far between and well placed here) which once again brings us back to, “Wow, what a technical achievement! “
If the film had focused on its sets and had not left time for dialogue scenes, “One Shot” would be a hell of a ride. But there’s no denying that they’re cardboard characters, even by action movie standards. There’s even a ridiculously in-depth exchange of important information when a character dies, an exchange that would have been welcome to almost everyone involved much earlier.
But of course, no one really watches “One Shot” for complicated shots of patriotism or the war on terrorists. The raffle is the gadget – and, for many, star Scott Adkins.
The British martial arts expert has made a name for himself in action films from “The Expendables 2” to “The IP Man 4”. His particular skills don’t come into play until halfway through, but once they do, Adkins’ dexterity provides welcome relief from the magnificence of guns and bombs that permeated the film.
The smartest thing Nunn’s camera does is switch between perspectives. We are not related to the character of Adkins because he is the best-selling; Nunn finds clever ways to keep viewers involved in what’s going on across the island, including fitting us into the jihadists led by Charef (Jess Liaudin, dressed attractively but possibly recklessly in a Henley cleverly unbuttoned). And the different deaths, when they do occur, come in both big and small ways. Several characters suddenly collapse, a small but effective way to add a layer of reality.
The final shot calls for a cool factor that the movie itself doesn’t need, one who falters about to smirk. Sometimes being a relentless killing machine with just enough stuff in mind to keep viewers engaged can be enough.
“One Shot” premieres in theaters and on VOD on November 5th.