This is an action thriller set in a secret Guantánamo-style black-ops facility where “terrorists” are tortured in the name of America’s homeland security and an extraction goes very wrong. It has risibly cliched dialogue and wooden, poorly directed acting from a B-to-G list cast, but it appears to be shot in one continuous take and strictly as an example of choreography and technical skill it’s pretty nifty. I would bet a box of popcorn there are a few sneaky invisible edits in there: for example when a suicide bomb goes off and the smoke clears to reveal devastation surely carefully arranged by set dressers, strewn with actors made up to look fatally wounded by shrapnel and debris.
tuttavia, with One Shot director James Nunn has crafted something as weirdly mesmeric as it is schlocky. The action starts in a military helicopter flying to a remote island belonging to some unnamed Nato country. (It was apparently shot in Suffolk, which would explain the presence of comically quaint pebble-dash on the walls.) A gaggle of Navy Seals, led by Scott Adkins’ head honcho Jake Harris (these protagonist hero guys are always named Jake or Jack), are escorting a CIA analyst Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene). Anderson has arrived at the site to take a man named Amin Mansur (British actor Waleed Elgadi, giving the best performance in the film) back to Washington DC with her. Supposedly, former businessman Mansur knows the location of a dirty bomb with radioactive material that’s going to go off very soon, although he furiously protests his innocence and the guys running the site, led by Ryan Phillippe’s embittered senior officer, aren’t keen to comply unless the paperwork gets cleared. But suddenly, a truck breaks through the amusingly flimsy chainlink fence with what must surely be over a hundred trained mercenaries crammed inside (judging by the body count by the end of the film).
From this point on, the camera dodges and weaves about, following the different factions as they all shoot and row and blow each other up. The sound mix is a bit odd because every sound is equally loud, be it the purring phut-phut-phut of a machine gun or a shouted command or a platitudinous word of comfort to a dying comrade. But the digital cinematography is very crisp and the lighting adjusts seamlessly from indoor to outdoor settings. Maybe this is one big product demo for the camera technology?