For action fans of a certain persuasion (read: low- and mid-budget DTV), just seeing the names Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Aaron Toney, Tim Man, and James Nunn all in one place should be enough to cause frothing at the mouth. For those not in the know, One More Shot is a perfect place to dip one’s toes into a wild, energetic sub-genre. Picking up moments after the ending of One Shot (2021), this sequel continues the adventures of special-ops soldier Jake Harris (Adkins). In the first film, Harris was tasked with delivering suspected terrorist Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) to a CIA black site to be interrogated as to the whereabouts of a dirty bomb destined for use on U.S. soil, but a group of mercenaries attack, killing everyone in their path in an attempt to rescue Mansur. Harris manages to ward them off, and One More Shot begins with Harris and Mansur en route to meet with CIA big wig Mike Marshall (Tom Berenger, still popping up in several DTV films a year, bless him). Marshall wants to know what went wrong at his black site but, more importantly, needs to ascertain the location of the bomb. The State of the Union address is happening in just a few hours (the film is set in Washington, DC, but was actually filmed in London), and a well-placed explosive could take out most of the U.S. government in one go. Marshall and his second in command, Agent Lomax (Alexis Knapp), have enlisted Mansur’s estranged wife, Niesha (Meena Rayann), in an effort to convince Mansur to give up the location of the bomb. Further complicating matters, Marshall is quick to blame Harris for the events of the first film, and summarily dismisses him. But as Harris prepares to leave the abandoned airport in which they’ve assembled, he spies some shady-looking operatives assassinating guards and sneaking into the building. He immediately springs into action, taking the interlopers out, and now it’s game on.
Like its predecessor, One More Shot is constructed entirely in real time, using some digital trickery and cannily hidden edits to give the impression of the action playing out in one long, continuous take. It’s, of course, a well-worn gimmick at this point, being utilized in big-budget Oscar bait (1917, Birdman) as well as indie and arthouse fare (Victoria, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open). At its worst, the long-take aesthetic reduces film grammar to a limited number of options by eliminating standard montage; what one gains in immediacy and verisimilitude, they lose in the visceral impact a well-timed edit can create. But director Nunn makes the most of his scenario, so much so that one frequently forgets that they’re watching a single take. The technique is most noticeable during conversation scenes, where the rat-a-tat rhythms of shot/countershot might’ve sped up some of the (admittedly necessary) plot exposition. Indeed, One More Shot occasionally resembles a truncated season of 24 as it teases a larger conspiracy and some well-placed moles within the CIA and Homeland Security. It’s a fair amount of plot to set up, but once Adkins is on the move, One More Shot becomes a perpetual motion machine. Harris wrests Mansur and Niesha away from the invading force, instigating a cat-and-mouse-style thriller as they evade soldiers throughout the airport. Whenever possible, Nunn navigates Adkins into narrow corridors and hallways before taking on waves of bad guys, bobbing and weaving around obstacles as he punches, kicks, stabs, and shoots dozens of dudes. Like any good action movie, Adkins’ opponents get more imposing as he goes along, and his showdown with Aaron Toney on the airport light rail is an early candidate for fight scene of the year, as is the eventual confrontation with Michael Jai White (it’s almost as good as their fight in Accident Man). Adkins remains the hardest-working man in the DTV arena; he’s made seven films in the last two years (including a scene-stealing supporting turn in John Wick 4), with three more slated for 2024. One More Shot ends on a cliffhanger, suggesting a third part is already being conceived of. With any luck, we’ll be seeing it sooner rather than later.
DIRECTOR: James Nunn; CAST: Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Alexis Knapp, Tom Berenger; DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing; STREAMING: January 16; RUNTIME: 1 hr. 42 min.