Action Movie Fanatix Review: One in the Chamber

When Killers Collide, Every Bullet Counts.

Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Dolph Lundgren, Claudia Bassols, Louis Mandylor

Director: William Kaufman

2012  |  91 Minutes  |  Rated R

“So, the left’s only three in the clip and the right…one in the chamber.  Was a thing of beauty, no?” – Aleksey Andreev

I have been a fan of Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s action offerings for a while now and was really looking forward to seeing him team up or stand off with one of my all time favorites, Dolph Lundgren, in One in the Chamber.

Ray Carver (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is a hitman in Prague who regularly works for one of the two Czech mafia families in town.  When he fails to kill one of his targets he becomes the target.  The family calls in an out of town assassin who is known as The Wolf (Dolph Lundgren) or Aleksey as he sometimes prefers to be called.  Aleksey is hired to finish the job that Ray started as well as taking care of Ray.

Aleksey Andreev is kind of a goofy, albeit intentionally, character.  He is a brutal assassin but is rarely serious in tone.  His wardrobe consists of Hawaiian shirts, white pants and a white fedora.  Some of the lines that he delivers are so over the top silly that Dolph gets this weird tone to his voice that causes his character to feel very unbelievable.  I have seen this before.  Sometimes when Dolph is given such goofy dialogue he delivers it in a goofy voice instead of his more menacing tones that make him such a badass on film.  I believe this is why sometimes people perceive him to be a bad actor when in reality he often just doesn’t have the greatest scripts to work with.  Writers and directors just need to know how to write for him and direct him to get the most out of his characters.

Ray Carver on the other hand is very serious all the time.  He seems to be tortured by his past but still carries on with the same path that led him there.  He is often quoting lines from the Bible that he stole from one of his victims from many years ago believing that he can never be saved.  He is in some ways less interesting because he is so monotone vocally and personally.  The only time he seems to brighten up is when he is stalking the daughter of that same man he had killed years ago.  It is a weird part to this character that I was never able to fully understand.  At one point he says he is there to save her but there is never any danger around her that he doesn’t bring himself.  I believe this entire section was supposed to round out Ray’s character but for me it only helped push me away.

The gun fights are a lot fun.  Cuba Gooding, Jr. opens the movie with a sniper rifle after he is told to “make a show of it” and does just that.  He picks off his main target with ease and then proceeds to make a mess of his underlings.  Dolph Lundgren has his own fun where he simply walks in to a gambler’s den and mows down all ten men with his dual pistols (ala Chow Yun-Fat) after factoring exactly how many rounds would be required to kill them all.  My only complaint in this area is that the gun fights are all a little short and seem to end as quickly as they begin.  Makes sense considering these are trained killers doing the shooting but it doesn’t keep me at the edge of my seat.

The hand to hand combat feels like it is missing something.  The sounds that are made when a punch or kick connects aren’t as loud or painful sounding as they should be.  The choreography and filming of these fights is good though and it is cool to see in the making of that Dolph is still doing many of his own stunts while Cuba Gooding, Jr. has a stunt double.  He’s still got it!

I found my self really enjoying the back and forth story between these two Czech mob families.  It was much more complex than I had anticipated and I liked it.  It’s not the Godfather but it is believable that there is some real history between these two families.

My biggest complaint is the pacing.  The story between the two families takes precedence over the story with the two assassins (which is who we all came to see).  It is a good story but tends to draw on a little long at times.  When we do finally get action it’s generally pretty short so we are back to the story about the Czechs (or worse, stalker Ray).

The music often doesn’t fit the scene and ends up working against the feeling that is supposed to be established in that scene.  The one big exception is the song that plays for the entire final battle.  It is actually a pretty cool techno/rap song that fits very well and helped bring the movie to a close on a very positive note.

I didn’t enjoy One in the Chamber as much as I had hoped but it is still a solid film.  It has some decent, albeit short, action scenes and an unexpectedly good backstory between the two warring families.  More, longer gun fights would have made this a real gem of a DTV release but as it stands I find it to be just slightly disappointing.