By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
I’ve been keeping an eye on this film for quite some time, as it’s constantly popped up on my radar as a turnstile for quality actors committing and dropping off it, including… taking a long breath now… ThomasHadenChurchForestWhitakerTerrenceHowardJulietteLewisJamesBadgeDaleJunoTempleLeslieMann… cough, cough, hack… oh, and MichaelFuckYeahFassbender.
That’s what it says on his Irish birth certificate.
Never fear, A Single Shot still puts together quite a cast, in the story of a backwoods poacher (Sam Rockwell) who accidentally shoots a young woman (Corpsy McCorpse) running through the woods while hunting. It turns out the reason she’s carrying a bunch of cash is because she’s involved with some shady types, who are now coming after the hunter. Can he outwit and survive them?
Besides Rockwell and C.S.I. standby McCorpse, you have to admit that the incredibly busy casting director ends up doing a good job. William H. Macy, in hick Saul Goodman mode, is fun to watch, and Jeffrey Wright gives his all to the role of Rockwell’s drunkard best friend/The Last African-American Hillbilly.
Anti-Pollution Native American feels his pain
Also popping up here and there are Melissa Leo, Kelly Reilly, W. Earl Brown, and Jason Isaacs, which makes for a fun game of “Where Do I Know That Person From?” The world-building done in the film is also feels real and lived-in, pretty much like a more realistic Justified, hold the charisma. As for the plot, well, it certain jumps right into things…
…then slows right the hell down. After the synopsis events, the plot focuses on fairly transparent character-building (of course he’s divorced with a kid) and general plot avoidance. If 25-30 minutes had been lopped out of this section, I highly doubt anybody would miss them, and it would also bring this back to the 90 minute feature length range that it had the material for. Maybe they were just trying to establish atmosphere?
Then dial back the over-aggressive, hackneyed score a bit, why dontcha? Oh, this is supposed to be a thriller you say? Then include thriller elements on the screen, instead of attempting to convince us with background music that’s trying way too hard.
Over-earnest puppy is cute until he’s slobbering all over your shoes
The acting walks a fine line between realistic and playing White Trash dress-up ‘n talkin’ wit’ accents, y’all.
Taught by Prof. Billy Bob General Lee “Cooninator” Jones, Emeritus
And sometimes it falls over it. Sam Rockwell is remarkable in how much he sinks into the character, and it’s easy to forget it’s him at times, but his lack of charisma, particularly when the rest of the movie is so damn slow, works against him a bit. Jeffrey Wright has the highest highs and lowest lows of the cast, though, with moments of brilliance interspersed with nearly laughable caricature.
This film has a lot of extraneous subplots and characters it fails to develop, but deep down this storyline is as linear and unsurprising as any unimaginative Hollywood flick. At the end, I was just left with a feeling of “That’s it?”
This film had lots of nice elements, but failed to come together into anything compelling. It wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t do anything for me at all. Somehow, A Single Shot is less than a sum of its parts.
Take a Drink: as always, whenever a character does
Take a Drink: whenever someone makes a portentous joke
Take a Drink: for marital difficulties
Do a Shot: for every shot, that hits