Screenplay by Jamie Russell
Directed By James Nunn
Starring Scott Adkins, Ashley Greene, Jess Liaudin, Ryan Phillippe
The heroes of today’s Hollywood action films are usually cast with manufactured tough guys.
To see actors such as Will Smith, Ryan Reynolds, and for some strange reason John Krasinski, being presented as tough guys proves that movies are indeed make believe. There are so few actors born with “badass” running through their veins anymore and the action genre has suffered.
While the big budget action pieces are more concerned with CGI explosions that overtake their plots and even their stars, it is the lower budget and On Demand/Streaming arenas where we can find true action films the way they used to be, the way they should be. It is here where we find the true action stars of today.
One of the biggest (and possibly the absolute best) is Scott Adkins. He should be a household name and as big a star as Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the days of a more adventurous Hollywood, he certainly would be.
Adkins has real charisma and action skills. A master of many different types of Martial Arts, his fight choreography has been a highlight of so many films and has made him popular among action aficionados worldwide.
In his latest film “One Shot“, a team of Navy SEALs, led by Jake Harris (Adkins) is tasked with overseeing the transportation of a prisoner (who knows the location of a bomb in the U.S.) from a secret government black site located on an island. Almost immediately, the site is swarmed with insurgents who come in guns-a-blazin’, seeking to grab the same man.
What ensues is a nonstop barrage of gun battles and hand to hand combat in the tight confines of the site. Adkins and his team fight (alongside a CIA analyst, played by Ashley Greene) to keep both the prisoner and themselves alive.
Written by Jamie Russell, this is a story we have seen before but the screenplay and the actors help it seem fresh and always absorbing. The line “Everyone asks me how many people I’ve killed, but nobody ever asks me how many people I’ve saved.” is a standout. Russell crafts his good and bad guys cut and dried and makes the villains stone cold brutal, assuring that we will be rooting hard for Adkins to crush them.
Director James Nunn (who previously worked with Adkins in 2014’s “Green Street 3: Never Back Down” and 2016’s “Eliminators”) can teach Hollywood action filmmakers a thing or two. The director does not fall into the shaky-cam trap that robs so many modern action flicks of their fire. He wants his audiences to experience the choreography and make out what is happening. Every shot, punch, and kick are always on full display.
For Nunn, “One Shot” is more than just a title. Cinematographer Jonathan Iles and his director give this film the added spark of doing it all in the “one continuous take” style. With clever editing from Liviu Jipescu, Nunn and Iles make their film play as one unbroken shot, giving the film and its action more urgency. At all times, the audience is made to feel as if they are part of the combat.
Ryan Phillippe has a small role as a CIA operative who holds violent “ill will” against terrorists, due to losing his wife on 9/11. The actor does fine and seems to be carving out a comfortable niche for himself in the action film world.
Former MMA fighter Jess Liaudin plays the main villain, Charef. He does very well in keeping his character realistic and refusing to give the standard bad guy performance full of nuances and overdone mannerisms. Liaudin has a presence to be sure and it works perfectly for his charcater.
While the story and acting are sold enough, fans are here for the action. Nunn and his stunt team deliver. As the film is a “nonstop” shot, the action is also a constant and is completley involving. The gun battles have kick and watching Adkins snake his way through the terrorist attack bullet by bullet is quite exhilarating. The final duel between Adkins and Liaudin is great but probably should have been longer and a bit more intense.
“One Shot” is a good film that does its job very well. Nunn sets out to entertain and does just that with a bit of style and inventiveness in the process.
Scott Adkins commands the film and proves his worth once again. This is a man who should be known to every film fan of every age. He just needs the right project to get him over the last barrier and make him the type of international star that earns 20-plus million a film.
They are currently searching for the next actor to play James Bond. Scott Adkins would be perfect. Yes, I said it.
R, 96 Minutes, Screen Media Films