Combustible Celluloid
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With: Scott Adkins, Ashley Greene, Ryan Phillippe, Emmanuel Imani, Dino Kelly, Jack Parr, Waleed Elgadi, Terence Maynard, Jess Liaudin, Lee Charles, Andrei Maniata
Written by: James Nunn, Jamie Russell
Directed by: James Nunn
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 96
Date: 11/05/2021

One Shot (2021)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Didn't Make the Cut

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Presented in what appears to be a single, long take, this action movie is expertly, impressively choreographed; it's too bad that the same attention wasn't given to the dull story or flat characters.

Junior CIA analyst Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene) rides in a helicopter, accompanied by a team of elite Navy SEALs; they are commanded by Jake Harris (Scott Adkins). Their mission is to retrieve a person of interest, Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi), from a CIA black site island prison, and bring him back to Washington D.C. The mission is urgent and time is of the essence.

Once there, Deputy Site Manager Jack Yorke (Ryan Phillippe) refuses to let the prisoner go. Worse, while they argue, another team of unknown terrorists arrives on the island, also looking for Mansur. As the bullets fly and grenades explode, it becomes clear that Mansur is the only living person that can stop a tragedy from happening back in the USA. Will they make it in time?

Following in the one-shot tradition of Silent House, Birdman, Bushwick, and 1917, One Shot begins in an aloft helicopter, and follows the characters into office buildings, and through a battlefield with characters hiding behind storage sheds, convenient arrangements of metal barrels, and stacks of wooden crates. It feels very much like a video game; we're aware that all these pieces have been built this way, that every obstacle and shield has been placed on purpose.

Like a video game, it can even get the adrenaline going with its unpredictable violence. But even a video game has a story; it has levels, and side-quests, and other things designed to create an experience. The movie pretty much consists of about an hour of shooting, explosions, blood spurts, characters hitting the ground, and little else (except for lots of shouting of banal dialogue).

One crucial story element is withheld, for no reason, until nearly the end, when it could have prevented all the trouble if it had been mentioned earlier. One Shot seems to care little about things like this, or about its human characters, which die dispassionately, without any feeling. It's too bad the colossal amount of work put into setting it up led to such a monotonous movie.

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