One Shot Art

One Shot (2021) Review

One Shot is both the title of the new Scott Adkins (Triple Threat, Seized) film, it’s also the film’s gimmick and reason for being made in the first place. Director James Nunn (Shark Bait, Eliminators), working from a script by Jamie Russell, has given us a feature-length action film shot in one continuous take.

Needless to say, One Shot keeps the plotting to a minimum. CIA operative Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene, Twilight, Aftermath) has been assigned to bring terrorist Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi, Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar) from a Black Site to the US for questioning. The base’s commander Jack Yorke (Ryan Phillippe, The 2nd, Lifeform) doesn’t think that’s a good idea and is refusing to release him.

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Lt. Jake Harris (Scott Adkins) and his team, Whit (Emmanuel Imani, Hold the Dark), Danny (Dino Kelly, The Good Liar) and Ash (Jack Parr, The Limehouse Golem, Bone Breaker), are assigned as their escort. And that’s a good thing because right on cue a small army of jihadist troops attacks the facility looking for Mansur as well.

One Shot is basically twenty minutes of talk followed by seventy minutes of pretty much non-stop action, held together by the most basic of plots. That and the teaming of Adkins and his favorite fight choreographer Tim Man (I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, Legacy of Lies). It probably didn’t hurt that Adkins and Nunn had worked together before on Eliminators and Green Street 3: Never Back Down.

One thing that needs to be addressed right away, One Shot’s one-take filming means there is a lot of shaky, handheld footage. We’re talking found footage level shaky at times, If you’re one of the people that get headaches or nausea from that, you may want to take that into consideration.

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A good portion of the film’s midsection is an Assault on Precinct 13 style siege thriller as the base’s survivors hole up in a fortified bunker. Apart from giving the viewer a bit of relief from the shaky camera work, it also gives the characters enough time to fill us in on just why Mansur is so important. It’s something to do with a plan to use an improvised nuke to take down the US government.

Of course, once ammo begins to run low, Adkins is forced to leave the bunker on a desperate mission to save them all. The film’s location, a disused British Army base, gives him plenty of locations to stealthy and brawl his way through. And the dark, gloomy English weather helps pass it off as somewhere in Eastern Europe.

It’s also here that One Shot’s gimmick becomes a liability, as several sequences would have been improved by simply cutting to a better camera angle. That wasn’t so much of a problem earlier in the film, where the action relies on gunplay. But now, with bullets at a premium and Adkins relying on his martial arts skills and a knife, the need for proper camera framing becomes an issue.

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The characters are, as expected, merely archetypes with no real depth. Even the film’s main villain Charef (Jess Liaudin, Anti-Gang, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) and his right-hand man  Dhelkor (Lee Charles, Transit 17, Cannibals and Carpet Fitters) are merely mercenaries, in it for the money. The one exception, surprisingly, is Mansur who gets to deliver a stinging speech about being drawn into radicalism after his family became collateral damage in a drone strike.

While it may have actually been better off without its gimmick, One Shot is still a satisfyingly fast-paced action film that should keep fans happy. One Shot is currently in limited theatrical release via Screen Media, you can check the film’s website for theatres. It comes to VOD and DVD on November 15th.

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2 thoughts on “One Shot (2021) Review”

  1. While not generally being a fan of this type of movies myself, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this one. The one shot style gave it a found footage type of immersion for me. I wasn’t really bothered by the less than optimal camera angles with the hand-to-hand combat scenes; it kind of felt conducive to the gritty realistic vibe the movie seemed to be going for. Nice one Jim, thanks for the review.

    1. Glad you liked it.

      I admit I was worried about how well the one-take format would work with a fast-moving film like this. They did it well give or take a few complaints.

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