Friday 2 February 2024

One More Shot (James Nunn, 2024)

Having had its Dutch premiere at the Pathé de Kuip as part of International Film Festival Rotterdam on Sunday, James Nunn's One More Shot has its fifth and final IFFR outing tonight, when it screens at the city's Pathé Schouwburgplein.  One More Shot is playing as part of the festival's Limelight strand, where it takes its place alongside the likes of Jonathan Glazer's The Zone of Interest, Kaouther Ben Hania's Four Daughters and Sean Durkin's The Iron Claw; while Nunn's film may pale in comparison with these acclaimed titles, it's a serviceable action movie which deserves better than its straight-to-video fate.  With this in mind, One More Shot's Rotterdam screenings afford a rare chance to see the film in a cinema, and it's safe to say that far worse films will be granted a theatrical release between now and the end of the year.  While the movie's absence from multiplexes will prove disappointing for its cast and crew, it's easy to imagine One More Shot enjoying a long life on the small screen.

One More Shot is a direct sequel to James Nunn's 2021 feature One Shot—in between these ventures, the filmmaker helmed creature feature Shark Bait—and both films are novel in that each appears to have been filmed in a single continuous shot.  As such, the films' titles are quite witty, although it should be pointed out that considerably more than one gunshot is fired in each film.  One More Shot joins its predecessor and the likes of Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman and Sam Mendes' 1917 in a select group of movies that have been edited to look as if they were filmed in one take, even if such efforts might have to defer to those films that are bona fide one-shot features—such as Russian Ark, Victoria and Medusa DeluxeOne More Shot reunites Nunn with the first film's star, Scott Adkins, who came to the project fresh from his memorable turn in last year's epic John Wick: Chapter 4—a film that featured a jaw-dropping single-take fight sequence as it set about redefining the modern action flick.

Here, Adkins reprises his role as crack Navy SEAL Jake Harris, who in the first film was in the thick of it as his squad attempted to transport Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) from a CIA black site.  Mansur had been detained on account of his involvement in a plot to launch a terror strike on Washington DC, and One More Shot opens with the prisoner and Harris arriving in the US as the clock ticks down to the attack.  The American authorities have brought along Mansur's heavily pregnant wife Niesha (Meena Rayann) as leverage, but before the CIA can begin interrogating their man, an army of mercenaries led by Robert Jackson (Michael Jai White) storms the airport in an attempt to retrieve Mansur.  Harris, who has only just had his part in this fraught business ended by Tom Berenger's apoplectic CIA officer, soon realises what's going on and sets about dispatching countless henchmen via a variety of brutal methods—although, more often than not, a gun is involved.  

The one-shot film is something of a curio: it can be hard to reconcile the impressiveness of the achievement with the notion that it's not much more than a technical exercise.  Here, though, there's a real-time urgency to the film, and the kinetic presentation manages to maintain interest in what is essentially a glorified video game (as indeed was the aforementioned 1917).  Adkins—in the sort of role usually reserved for the likes of Jason Statham—is good value as Harris; disappointingly, White is given precious little to do up until his (admittedly impressive) big fight scene with Adkins—both actors have a background in martial arts, which lends a satisfying authenticity to the face-off.  The rest of the acting is pretty variable, with Berenger phoning it in and Gemma Arterton's less-famous sister Hannah struggling to make much of an impact as a brusque CIA agent.  But One More Shot is all about the spectacle, and Nunn, working with a relatively low budget, has crafted a likeable, competent and generally entertaining action thriller.

Darren Arnold