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One Ranger (2023) Review

Opening with the well-worn quote “One riot. One ranger.” from which it takes its title, One Ranger the new film from action specialist Jesse V. Johnson (Chief of Station, Pit Fighter) quickly segues into a scene of Texas Ranger Alex Tyree (Thomas Jane, Breach, Slayers) tying up his horse before rousting a stereotypically drunken Native American fugitive.

That’s interrupted by a call to deal with a crew of bank robbers in an ATV, who’ve left a trail of dead lawmen in their wake. He manages to kill three of them, but the leader, former IRA operative turned killer for hire Declan McBride (Dean Jagger, The Hunter’s Prayer, Corbin Nash), makes it to Mexico.

That’s where British Intelligence, in the form of Agent Jennifer Smith (Dominque Tipper, The Girl with All the Gifts, The Expanse), enters the picture. The Mexican authorities have arrested McBride, but won’t officially hand him over to the US or the UK. But they respect Tyree enough they’ll unofficially hand McBride over to him.

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If you think that’s a bit far-fetched, Johnson is just getting started. McBride escapes from Tyree’s custody, kills his partner and heads back to London where he plans to detonate a nuke. Tyree and Smith follow, and along with her boss (John Malkovich, Shattered, Savage Salvation), have to stop him. Why they didn’t just call in 007 is left unexplained.

Needless to say, none of this makes a bit of sense, and you’re better off not even trying. The script is full of moments where logic is totally ignored, chief among them Tyree not getting any backup once he’s back in the US with McBride, leaving him an easy target for ambushing. It doesn’t get any better once he’s in London, but like John Wayne in Brannigan, somebody has to teach those Brits how a real man deals with criminals, right?

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Granted, with his sunglasses and mustache Jane seems to be channelling Nick Nolte’s Ranger Benteen from Extreme Prejudice more than anyone else, But he does manage to give a decent performance, and several years of working with Tipper on The Expanse helps their chemistry here. Unfortunately, they’re not given a lot to work with, and their characters have no depth or development. For his part, Malkovich seems to be sleepwalking through his handful of scenes, seeming to be somewhere between bored and irritated. They still come off better than most of the minor characters, who tend to be a collection of usually negative stereotypes.

Of course, the action scenes not the script are the draw for a film like One Ranger, and Johnson does deliver those. Unfortunately, while he is a credible action hero, Thomas Jane isn’t Scott Adkins with whom Johnson did his best work. This reduces scenes, such as the fights between Tyree and McBride’s second-in-command, Oleg Jakovenko (Jess Liaudin, One Shot, Skin Traffik) from potentially stand out martial arts showcases to basic brawls and gunplay. Stunt coordinator Dan Styles (Hunted, A Violent Man) keeps them interesting, but they still lack something.

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Similarly, cinematographer Simon Rowling (I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn) and editor Matthew Lorentz (Run Hide Fight, The Mercenary) do their best to make the fights look good but are limited by what they have to work with. Maybe if the rest of the film had matched the over-the-top feel of Sean Murray’s (The Dead Ones, White Elephant) score, it would have been better off.

One Ranger ends up being one of those films that’s certainly watchable, but despite its considerable potential is far from memorable. The script lacks interesting or charismatic characters and Tyree’s habit of talking like he stepped out of a Western only works for so long before it becomes annoying. Watch it for the action scenes, but be prepared for frequent dull spells in between them.

Lionsgate has released One Ranger to theatres as well as VOD and Digital Platforms. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on June 13th. If you’re still looking for more action, FilmTagger can recommend some titles.

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