Army of One (2020) Review
Dillion (Matt Passmore, Jigsaw, 13 Reasons Why) and his partner Frank (Alan Moore) follow a bunch of masked killers into an abandoned house. Dillon makes it out, Frank doesn’t. Needing to get away after that he and his wife Brenner (Ellen Hollman, Love and Monsters, Matrix 4) decide to go camping. Almost immediately they run into trouble on the road from a redneck named Butch (Gary Kasper, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation). This escalates to a confrontation at a diner with Butch and a few of his friends. However, the diner’s owner Mama (Geraldine Singer, Darlin’, Get Out) breaks it up before it can get too far.
Of course, that’s not the end of it. Out in the woods, Dillion and Brenner run across a gun-running operation, led by guess who. They’re captured, shot and their bodies tossed in a ditch. Butch and his crew are about to find out the hard way if you’re going to shoot the Army’s first female Ranger, you better make sure you kill her.
Director Stephen Durham has a background in horror, having directed Abbey Grace and having a producer’s credit on the likes of The Dark Within and The Butchers. The script was co-written by Mary Ann Barnes who wrote for the Tim Allen show Last Man Standing, David Dittlinger (Abbey Grace) and Army of One’s star Ellen Hollman.
Considering how many low-budget action films I’ve seen get a simple revenge plot wrong the creative team’s lack of experience with the genre had me a bit worried. I shouldn’t have been, Army of One is a solid little piece of mayhem, in the tradition of old school revenge films like Gator Bait and the original I Spit on Your Grave.
While it doesn’t have the budget to stage massive action set pieces Army of One does have plenty of bodies to throw at our heroine. And it does, there’s plenty of fights, chases, shootings, stabbings, impalements. The film keeps moving and doesn’t bog down in talk, a mistake way too many films like this make.
It also makes sure the villains are thoroughly hateable. Apart from their gun-running and general bloodthirstiness, they keep several women in cages. This leads to complications and plot twists in the final act as Brenner tries to help one of them, Emily (Kendra Carelli, Bloody Ballet, Maid to Order) escape.
Ellen Hollman does a solid job as Brenner. She’s got a toned, athletic, look that makes her a lot more believable than many of the women I’ve seen in similar roles. She looks convincing kicking ass on most of the guys she fights. However, she looks a bit too light and lacking in muscle mass to be kicking some of the 6”4’ 300lb Bubbas she faces off against around so easily.
Update, writer David Dittlinger says that Hollman actually did manage to put a hurt on a couple of her larger opponents. You can check out the details in the comments.
There’s nothing game-changing or groundbreaking about Army of One. It just does what it does damn well and with a minimum of plot contrivances or need to have characters act totally brain dead. Which makes for a nice change
As a side note, the overlap between the cast and crew of Army of One and the last two films by Scottish writer/director David Ryan Keith, The Dark Within and Redwood Massacre: Annihilation as well as his upcoming film God’s Country is interesting to note. Keith was the sound man and colourist on this and will edit The Host App co-written and produced by Durham. This could be the start of a very nice trans-Atlantic production team.
And as a totally trivial side note, one of Army of One’s producers was Aaron Norris, younger brother of Chuck, and director of Hellbound and Braddock: Missing in Action III.
Army of One will be released on digital, On-Demand and DVD on December 15th by Uncork’d Entertainment. You can check their Facebook page for more details.