The mere mention of single-take action scenes sends the imaginations of the average action fan running wild. Whole movies swinging for the fences with the same gimmick over their entire run-time brings on that same response on steroids, and director James Nunn’s “One-Shot” is the latest to drop into the war zone to combat enemy fire without ever cutting to a different angle.
None other than the one and only Scott Adkins is on hand for one of his most refreshingly different vehicles yet, with character twists viewers never see coming and the visceral feel of an out-and-out war movie.
Scott Adkins goes Navy Seal
Scott portrays U.S. Navy SEAL Jake Harris, tasked with facilitating the escort of incarcerated British medical entrepreneur Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) from a top-secret CIA black site.
The mission seems to be going off without a hitch until a group of insurgents arrive with the aim of getting their hands on Mansur.
As Harris and the SEALS keep Mansur out of reach, CIA operative Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene) reveals that Mansur had helped funnel materials to a radical terrorist group that lead to the construction of a bomb set to go off in Washington D.C. during the State of the Union address.
High Stakes & Tight Spaces!
Mansur is the one shot the team has to stop the bomb from going off, and with the insurgents determined to stop him from foiling the plot, it’s up to Harris, Anderson, and the SEAL team to survive the assault on the site long enough to get Mansur out to stop the bomb.
Right from the jump, “One Shot” keeps its moral outlook grey, its stakes high, its confines tight, and its action scenes rough and frequently explosive.
A One-Take War Movie that Pulls You in…
It’s essentially a war movie caught in one take, and it never lets you forget what a harrowing nightmare an event like its story would feel like.
“One Shot” sets its table as a mini “Saving Private Ryan”, and with its single-shot format, it’s impossible not to feel right in the middle of a situation where death could be waiting right around every corner.
Suffice to say, “One Shot” is a military action film where Harris’ somber axiom: “When people find out you’re a team guy, the first question they ask is how many people have you killed. Nobody ever asks how many people you’ve saved”, feels right at home.
Keeping the Tension…ON!
The single-shot gimmick is getting more and more popular for entire movies to take on (as seen in the likes of “1917” or “Crazy Samurai Musashi”), becoming increasingly elaborate in how cuts are hidden to ensure that that real-time edge, feel, and on screen tension is maintained.
“One Shot” pulls that off exceptionally without ever tipping its hat to where its cuts are hidden. Whether Harris is crawling through a vent shaft or silently navigating hallways to pick off enemies like Rambo in a scenario out of “The Raid”, you’re along for the ride in the most pure and palpable way possible.
“One Shot” also knows how to balance its guns-blazing action with the appropriate amount of tension and suspense as Harris and his associates do their best to avoid having to stand their ground against their attackers until there’s no other option.
Tim Man is also on-hand for the movie’s fight scenes, and it’s a different, but intriguing flavor of fist-and-foot action than but he and Scott are known for.
Krav Maga & Knife Fights Heighten the Gritty Feel
With tactical knife fighting and Krav Maga skills as his main close-quarters weapons, the fights are a lot more duck-and-cover and rough around the edges than audiences usually associate with a Scott Adkins action movie, and it meshes perfectly with the film’s edgy tone of survival against overpowering numbers.
“One Shot” is a true first-hand experience of an action movie that only one shot can pull off. Working with the challenges of a single-take war movie juggling act AND a pandemic simultaneously, James Nunn deserves an explosion of acclaim from action movie lovers around the world.
That “One Shot” also never loses its grasp on its emotional core in the empathy it affords to Mansur and Harris’ growing determination that he can heal a deep wound in the prisoner he’s come to transport is also testimony to the strength of its story that it reveals to the audience with calculated precision.
“One Shot” nails the novelty of its title, and hits right where, and when, it counts.