Review by Sean Boelman
Not to be confused with The Lone Ranger — although its punny title is no doubt attempting to take advantage of that similarity — One Ranger is a mostly pedestrian action thriller. Helmed by Jesse V. Johnson, who’s typically great at directing B-movie action flicks, the elements are there for this to have worked, but they simply do not come together.
The film follows a Texas Ranger who is recruited by British Intelligence to track down a terrorist in a bid to stop an international threat. It’s certainly a choice to make a film about a Texas Ranger and have it be international in scope, and while it seems ambitious, it largely adheres to familiar tropes and conventions.
From the opening scene, it’s clear that the film is blending its classic Western influences with more modern sensibilities. The movie kicks off with Jane’s Texas Ranger hunting down some criminals who are roaming through the Texas desert on ATVs. It feels like a very natural approach, and while it doesn’t always work, you have to admire it for trying something fun.
As is the case with many B-movie action thrillers, the story in One Ranger is overly convoluted. It somehow involves the Mexican cartel, Russian mobsters, British intelligence, and of course, the Texas Rangers. At a certain point, you check out of the story and begin to wait for the next action scene or opportunity for Jane to chew the scenery.
The action sequences — when present — are pretty solid. Johnson certainly has an eye for directing gritty fight scenes, and those portions of the film are great. Unfortunately, they are few and far between, with much of the runtime instead being spent on the characters attempting to explain and uncover this somewhat useless conspiracy.
Thomas Jane is a ton of fun to watch in his role, and basically the only reason to see this movie. Given a better mystery to investigate, Jane’s Ranger could easily become a compelling character on the level of Dirty Harry, largely thanks to the fact that Jane is clearly having the time of his life. Unfortunately, the script lets him down and leaves him feeling somewhat predictable.
The rest of the characters are extraordinarily shallow, in many cases even to the point of feeling like racial stereotypes. The few Latino characters feel like caricatures perpetuating the cliches of cartel movies. That being said, the film does get some tokenization points for having a Black woman as its secondary lead to Jane.
One Ranger has a premise, leading man, and director that could have elevated this beyond straight-to-VOD level, but it’s unfortunately just passable. Jesse V. Johnson usually makes films that are pretty fun, but this one’s just mostly uninteresting.
One Ranger hits VOD on May 5.