Well, Scott Adkins has another franchise. ONE MORE SHOT is the new sequel to ONE SHOT, director James Nunn’s 2021 siege thriller shot in ROPE style (simulated to look like one continuous shot). The first film is really well made, with surprisingly good drama and performances, in addition to the cleverly planned camera moves and action. Many fans ranked it among Adkins’ best, but it’s a movie where he mostly just uses guns and never does a single flying kick, so I could not be a party to that. It also has a bit of a War On Terror mindset that I wasn’t too excited about. But it’s good.
Adkins, Nunn, and co-writer Jamie Russell have reunited for the sequel, which not only avoids those things I complained about, but is just a bigger and more novel action movie anyway. While the first was set at a CIA black site similar to the location of over 432,000 other military action movies since the George W. Bush administration, this one is set at an evacuated airport.
Navy SEAL Jake Harris (Adkins) arrives with his prisoner Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi, FOUR LIONS), the only person who knows the location of a dirty bomb meant to go off near Washington DC during the State of the Union. For various reasons that not everyone is happy with they can’t bring him to a military airport, and instead make up a fake gas leak as an excuse to clear a public one. I think it’s justified by the script, but even if it wasn’t, it’s just a way cooler location than a military base – they somehow filmed it at London Stansted Airport.
When Harris arrives he’s met by the CIA’s Mike Marshall (Tom Berenger, THE SUBSTITUTE), Homeland Security’s Agent Lomax (Alexis Knapp, PITCH PERFECT) and others, who brought Mansur’s estranged, pregnant wife Niesha (Meena Rayann, Warrior Nun) to try to convince him to talk. Harris wants to stay with the prisoner after all he’s been through, but he’s immediately dismissed, and finds a place to go call his panicked wife (Jill Winternitz, “Pan Am Stewardess,” INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY). For anyone who’s ever been stuck in an airport while traveling, seeing this filmed in an empty terminal really communicates the level of exhaustion he’s starting out with.
He doesn’t even finish his phone call before he sees a bunch of armored gunmen running through the terminal and realizes something’s up. Next thing you know all the various agents are taking fire and he’s trying to keep the Mansurs alive and in custody while figuring out who the attackers are and what they’re up to.
Bad news for Harris, maybe, but good news for viewers: they are an army of highly skilled mercenaries whose leader, Jackson, is played by the great Michael Jai White. He gets a real good scary villain treatment; we hear subordinates talking about him fearfully before we see him, and when we do see him it’s sometimes shot from a vantage point like we’re hiding behind something spying as he walks through giving orders with a crazy Deebo look in his eyes. He has respect but little patience for his cold-blooded lead henchmen Dunbar (Aaron Toney, WOLF WARRIOR II, DEBT COLLECTORS) and Campbell (Edward Linard, NEVER BACK DOWN: REVOLT), who he sends to find Harris and the Mansurs.
So there’s some very tense McClaning – sneaking around, trying not to be spotted, stealing weapons and vests from those he kills. Sometimes the camera will move to follow other characters and Harris will be an unseen force shooting at them from off screen or popping up to choke somebody. There’s lots of shooting again, but plenty of close quarters fights with fists, knives, even kicking and stomping. Thank you, ONE MORE SHOT, I appreciate you.
It’s not constant battle, but it stays interesting. There are twists and turns about what the bad guys are trying to do and who Harris can trust. One actor gets to do a swing from good guy to total asshole, and has a good time with it.
Mansur is an unusually complex character for this genre, a guy who really was planning a terror attack out of vengeance for a drone killing his child, but seems to have been sort of entrapped into it, might be swayed to help stop it, and definitely resents being used as cover for someone else’s agenda. His wife Niesha also has layers to her, not having forgiven him for what he’s done but still having feelings for him and, after some initial reluctance, thinking she might be able to get through to him.
I’m not sure they did this consciously, but I like that there are some DIE HARD 2 parallels in this part 2. Mainly that its one main tough guy is running around fighting many in an airport, but also having everyone worried about a foreign threat while it’s actually American soldiers gone rogue behind the whole thing. Of course the budget is minuscule compared to what Renny Harlin had (that’s life), so they don’t get to have exploding jets or anything. I was hoping for some luggage conveyor shenanigans, but that wasn’t in the cards, and might not make sense in an abandoned airport. However, there is a fight on a tram and if it’s not really moving, man did they make it look like it was. I’m a big fan of NINJA’s obviously greenscreened subway fight, but the realism of this one got my heart beating fast.
Like anything, it’s got some goofy bits. I was amused by him passing a TV screen where somebody on the news is explaining what the State of the Union is and that the President, Vice President and Congress will all be there. I know that’s for our friends outside of the U.S., but it’s still funny. Overall, though, this transcends most VOD action, a seriously impressive piece of high level filmmaking craft and budget stretching. The reason I haven’t mentioned that it continues the fake-oner gimmick of the first movie is that I honestly didn’t think about it much while watching it. Of course it’s not really one take, but the hidden cuts aren’t obvious enough to be distracting and the effect is organic enough for me never to be looking for them. I guess the only time I wondered was after a fall stunt that must have involved some kind of trick, but I don’t know what it was. I think it’s a very effective approach for this, giving that CHILDREN OF MEN feeling of caught-in-a-war-zone chaos (especially when they’re in a vehicle getting shot at) and just creating a real sense of urgency by telling the story in real time.
Of course one of the selling points is seeing Adkins and White face each other again. They appeared together in ACCIDENT MAN (2018) and TRIPLE THREAT (2019), but my mind jumps way back to 2006’s UNDISPUTED II: LAST MAN STANDING, the breakout role for Adkins, and also a milestone for White and for DTV action in general. They do indeed get to fight, but it would be unfair to hype it as a Boyka vs. Iceman rematch – it’s a different type of movie, a different type of fight, and they’re almost 20 years older.
It is, however, a really good scene with some real thought put into each character’s approach. Jackson is very upright and cocky, strutting around, talking shit, because he’s been laying back commanding the troops all day. Harris has been in a constant uphill battle, a long flight his only rest between movies, so he’s tired and falling over and smart enough to conserve his breath and concentration by not responding to Jackson’s comments. The fight choreographer is Tim Man, who broke out with NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR and has been one of Adkins’ regular collaborators since (BOYKA: UNDISPUTED, ELIMINATORS, ACCIDENT MAN, ABDUCTION, TRIPLE THREAT, LEGACY OF LIES, ONE SHOT, CASTLE FALLS, ACCIDENT MAN: HITMAN’S HOLIDAY).
(non-specific spoilers this paragraph) Their fight is pretty short but ends in a cool way, set up earlier. I like that we see Harris contemplate killing him, and not even necessarily think better of it, but just have to move on to his next task. It’s good characterization, so only after the movie did it occur to me that it leaves Jackson alive for the sequel they clearly hope to make. With that in mind it kind of seems like a Darth-Maul-behind-the-force-field, Ogami-and-Retsudo-putting-their-swords-in-the-ground, let’s-put-a-pin-in-this type moment in an ongoing duel.
That’s a complaint someone might have, that it ends in sort of a cliffhangery way. He stopped one thing but now there’s a bigger thing to worry about. It absolutely feels like a middle chapter, and in the world of indie action we don’t know if part 3 is for sure happening. But for me it’s very effective because it puts the emphasis on a very significant character moment at the end. That makes it feel like the movie is about something very human as much is it’s about clever filmmaking technique and a badass motherfucker trying to stop a bomb from going off.
ONE MORE SHOT is on VOD in the US and Sky Cinema in the UK. I recommend watching ONE SHOT first, because it’s worth seeing and this is a direct continuation, but if for some reason you insist on skipping to this one I think you’ll get the gist.