Judge David Johnson has one in the chamber. That's a euphemism for something, right?
When killers collide, every bullet counts.
What exactly is the statute of limitations on using "Academy Award Winner" as a descriptor, if you've been trafficking for years in direct-to-DVD junk? Because, if you haven't heard, Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire…in 1996. He's also in One in the Chamber, a limp action movie about two assassins hired by warring factions of the Prague underworld.
The first assassin is Ray Carver (Gooding), a hitman in high demand and a killer considered the best of the best. He's dispatched to Prague to snipe away at some heavy-hitters in the criminal arena, and through his violence inadvertently sets off a powder-keg. Now it's a full-scale crime war and the other side recruits their own killer, a former Soviet badass known as "The Wolf" (Dolph Lundgren, The Expendables). Ray and the Wolf litter the streets of Eastern Europe with gangster blood, before ultimately meeting face-to-face where they will have to decide on whether to keep trying to kill each other or maybe team up in the mutual detest of their employers and get their shooting on.
I'll spoil it for you. Yes, these two guys do eventually form a tenuous alliance, but it's nowhere near as satisfying as it should be. From the moment Dolph appears, it's apparent to everyone except the characters themselves there will be some sort of team-up in the future. Unfortunately, the way it shakes out is largely disappointing, the money moments coming at the tail-end of an underwhelming shootout finale. There's a hint of something potentially cool to follow, but alas it takes place after the credits, off-screen. Huzzah.
As for our headliners, they're okay. Cuba sleepwalks, but when the film calls for his character to emote—mostly with his new girlfriend whose arc plays a critical role in getting these two crazy kids together—he manages to break free of his disinterest. Dolph has more fun with his Goofy Ex-Soviet Sporting Panama Wear construct. His biggest challenge (besides making it through a fight scene without popping his hip flexor) is balancing a Russian accent with hipster twang.
What ultimately submarines One in the Chamber is its lack of action. Despite the screen grabs on the cover and the weighty red-meat language claiming this is a "thriller loaded with action," this experience checks in light on the mayhem scale. What little action there is ends up being gun-heavy, and the only change of pace is a stilted knife fight between Ray and The Wolf. In the end, this is more of an Eastern European gangland saga and less a straight actioner…and frankly, I don't care about Prague's crime problems.
Solid Blu-ray though, starting with a stark and highly-detailed 1.78:1/1080p HD transfer and ending with a TrueHD 5.1 mix which, when called upon during the few active sequences, delivers some pleasing thump. One extra: a standard nine-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that's more promotional than insightful.
Guilty. I blame the Euro.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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