Jesse V. Johnson’s latest action-drama, One Ranger, hit streaming and theaters on Friday, May 5. Johnson, star Thomas Jane and much of the cast and crew attended a full house screening at the Laemmle NoHo. Jane (The Punisher, The Predator) plays Texas Ranger Alex Tyree, a slow talking, fast shooting lawman representing the best of a legendary organization. Tracking down a local small-time thief in the El Paso desert, Tyree crosses paths with on the run bank robber and terrorist for hire Declan McBride, (Dean Jagger). Tyree snipes McBride’s crew one by one but the boss manages to escape and our Texas Ranger hero goes home to a nameless blonde.
British Intelligence agent Darby (Dominique Tipper) shows up at Tyree’s door, explaining that McBride has been captured in Mexico but the government won’t extradite so they need his help. During transport, Tyree and McBride get a little back and forth before being ambushed by McBride’s crew where a young Ranger is killed and Tyree wounded. Not quite The Punisher style wounded, Tyree is soon back on the job and asked to head across the pond to help find Tyree who is planning some mass terrorist event.
We’re introduced to Darby’s boss (John Malkovich), who does not have an English accent but rather speaks with a run-on mumble, there’s some cowboy hat and US vs UK banter. As Tyree and Darby track down McBride’s crew you get several run ins, fisticuffs, and shoot outs. The fight scenes and dialog between Tyree and affable henchman Oleg (Jess Liaudin) are among the highlights of the flick. While Tyree is a crack shot, he’s not a close combat, hand to hand master and swings big haymakers, fights a little dirty and uses whatever he can around him to put the hurt on Oleg, including a fork, plates, and a sledgehammer.
At a brisk 90 something minutes, One Ranger delivers a solid watch that is rooted in its inspirations of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne westerns and action movies. There are accents galore (British, Irish, Jane’s West Texas, Malkovich’s robot voice) so the dialog isn’t always understandable along with McBride’s motivation as a social terrorist for hire with a heart, a little muddled as well. Jagger puts forth the effort though in his performance. This was a two hander between Jane and Darby with Dominique Tipper there basically every step of the way after a certain point and holds her own.
After the film, writer-director Johnson, Jane, Jagger and Rachel Wilde (playing Jagger’s one time love interest) took part in Q&A. Johnson elaborated on his action movie obsession, citing Coogan’s Bluff and Brannigan as partial inspirations. Everyone on stage praised Johnson’s enthusiasm and planning, which goes a long way on films like this that are essentially shot in a few weeks like an extended television episode. Jane recommended Tipper from their The Expanse days as they had spent years together in the harsh Toronto winter during production and he knew she could both nail the performance and also not piss him off. Shoutouts to Jane and Jagger’s willingness to step in for fight scenes and car chases came from the in-attendance Stunt Coordinator. Jane delivered a couple zingers about where they shot in Britain, some crappy town with crappy food that he never wants to return to and that he left his eye catching 10-gallon hat there too. Jane also shared the surprising requirements of Texas Ranger appearance like making sure your jeans weren’t too faded, boots can’t be dusty and your hat should be clean.
After the film, I randomly ended up exiting next to the great Max Martini who was there to support a friend in the film. I quickly asked him about Pacific Rim and the Shane Black pilot Edge while forgetting he was in Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Ayer’s underrated action bro-fest Sabotage! A great actor and a nice guy.
Congratulations and kudos to Johnson, a former Stunt Man who has consistently delivered action flicks with heart and humor like The Butcher, The Debt Collector and Accident Man. Always looking forward to what he’s up to next.