A grizzled Texas lawman takes on an IRA terrorist gone rogue in One Ranger, which is now playing in Prague cinemas after debuting on VOD streaming services worldwide last month. Despite a promising B-movie setup, some flavorful performances, and competently-filmed action scenes, this one is disappointingly flat and unimaginative, and ultimately a misfire.
Thomas Jane stars as One Ranger‘s titular lawman, a gravely-voiced Texas stereotype straight out the 1890s. In the film’s opening scene, which could have come out of an authentic period Western, Jane’s Ranger Alex Tyree tracks down a Native American on the lam in the stark Texas desert.
Things take a contemporary turn when an off-road vehicle full of bank robbers leads a police chase though the ranger’s path. The baddies shoot up a police cruiser, and the ranger picks off three Mexican bandits through a long-range rifle… but their leader, who happens to be IRA terrorist Declan McBride (Dean Jagger), escapes into Mexico.
Through a needlessly complicated series of events that has Alex twice begged by British intelligence agent Agent Jennifer Smith (Dominique Tipper, Jane’s co-star from The Expanse) to help track down the terrorist, the Texas lawman finds himself in London, where prickly supervisor (John Malkovich, seated in an office for the entirety of his performance) barks the usual stay-in-line orders.
Once the action shifts to London, we might expect a fun fish-out-of-water action-comedy with Jane’s cowpoke laying the smack down on some rowdy hooligans, crashing a proper afternoon tea, maybe even greeting some royalty while spittin’ tobacco out the side of his mouth… you know, the usual Crocodile Dundee routine.
But no. Outside of a compliment on his cowboy hat, the fact that Jane’s character is a walking Texas stereotype shooting up London is entirely ignored as One Ranger shifts into a kind of low-rent Patriot Games. In fact, Jane’s character is largely irrelevant to the story as Agent Smith does all the police work; Alex is there because he’s the only person who has seen the terrorist, something that never factors into the story.
Invoking something along the lines of a Nick Nolte or Sam Elliott, Jane is One Ranger‘s real standout, and a reminder that he has the chops to carry something like this when he’s not relegated to supporting roles in Money Plane or late-career Bruce Willis titles.
The action in One Ranger is competent, though it’s largely relegated to three scenes of fisticuffs between Jane’s ranger and a Ukrainian baddie Oleg, nicely played by French martial artist Jess Liaudin. In these brief moments, we can see the seeds of the satisfying fish-out-of-water action movie that One Ranger never becomes.
One Ranger was written and directed by B-movie veteran Jesse V. Johnson, whose recent credits include some of martial arts star Scott Adkins’ better vehicles, Avengement and The Debt Collector. Despite having all the parts to make this one succeed, however, he misses the mark with this one.