One Shot follows a group of Navy SEALs led by Lt Blake Harris (Scott Adkins) and CIA analyst Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene), who are tasked with retrieving prisoner Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) from a CIA black site island prison to try and prevent a terrorist attack on Washington. However, they are not the only ones looking for Waleed, and the SEALs must fight to both survive and extract Waleed when a group of insurgents attack the prison.
One Shot’s primary storytelling gimmick is, as the title says, the movie was filmed in one shot: the entire film is one continuous take, directly following the action as it happens. While this is an interesting trick, creating a powerful sense of tension and claustrophobia and facilitating some fairly engaging camerawork, it can only do so much to inject excitement into the story, which is unfortunately very barebones and dull.
From a narrative standpoint, everything on-screen has been done before and done more interestingly – it’s essentially an hour and a half of Navy SEALs, all of whom are a day away from seeing their families, shooting at terrorists. None of the characters are particularly compelling, and the dialogue feels wooden at the best of times, which actively works against the hard work done by the rest of the film’s production.
There’s some vague lip service paid to the idea of political messages, with some brief criticism of torture and war crimes, but these moments are too few and far between and feel very non-committal. The writing is at odds between wanting to present an uncomplicated image of gung-ho military heroes and acknowledging the unethical practices of the US military, but cannot commit to either stance, creating an intensely muddled picture that does nothing to help the problems at the heart of the film.
From a technical standpoint, One Shot is very impressive – its central gimmick does a lot to make its action scenes dynamic and exciting, and allows for some slick camera tricks and visually appealing shots. However, where it’s really let down is in its storytelling. Great cinematography can only do so much to salvage a thoroughly uninteresting narrative, making this one-shot film more of a one-trick pony.
One Shot is released on Sky on 29th January 2022.
Watch the trailer for One Shot here: