Review: ‘One Ranger,’ starring Thomas Jane and John Malkovich

May 28, 2023

by Carla Hay

Thomas Jane and Dominique Tipper in “One Ranger” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“One Ranger”

Directed by Jesse V. Johnson

Culture Representation: Taking place in Texas, Mexico, Eastern Europe, and the United Kingdom, the action film “One Ranger” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some black people, Latinos and Native Americans) representing the working-class, middle-class and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: A Texas ranger is enlisted by a British intelligence agent to help capture a Northern Irish terrorist.

Culture Audience: “One Ranger” will primarily appeal to people who don’t mind watching low-quality “law and order” chase movies.

Dean Jagger in “One Ranger” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“One Ranger” star Thomas Jane is one of those actors who has done so many bad movies over the last several years, people who watch a lot of movies already know that any film he stars in will be a terrible flop. “One Ranger” is just a ridiculous series of chase scenes where viewers are supposed to believe that MI6 can’t catch an international terrorist without the help of one Texas Ranger. John Malkovich’s oddly placed role in the movie is really a glorified cameo.

Written and directed by Jesse V. Johnson, “One Ranger” not only has subpar acting and poorly staged action scenes, it also has a barrage of cringeworthy dialogue. The movie foreshadows how horrible it’s going to be with a captioned statement in the introduction that says: “In 1896, Texas Ranger Captain William ‘Bill’ McDonald arrived in Dallas to quell the riot expected to an accompany an illegal heavyweight fight. Seeing MacDonald alone, the mayor asked where the other lawmen were, McDonald replied, ‘Hell, ain’t I enough?’ One riot, one ranger.”

This hokey statement is supposed to be the excuse for why the entire movie is about how only one Texas Ranger is needed to take down an elusive international terrorist. The Texas Ranger in this case is Alex Tyree (played by Jane), a rough-and-tumble character who is nothing but a hollow stereotype, as are almost all the characters in this creatively bankrupt film. “One Ranger” viewers will learn nothing about who Alex really is as a person. He might as well be a robot.

Alex is first seen in a shootout involving the arrest of Tom Worth (played by Gregory Zaragoza), because Tom has violated his parole. Tom is being accused of assault, brandishing a firearm in a public place, and stealing a horse, a rifle and whiskey from Tom’s employer. Alex snarls at Tom: “Try to run, I’ll kill you … You’re just more trash in Terlingua County, like me.”

Alex and Tom are in a desert area. Out of nowhere, a gunman shows up and tries to hold Tom hostage, but the the gunman runs away when he sees that Alex is a skilled shooter. Later, Alex is seen getting into a confrontation with a generic FBI agent with the last name Derby (played by Spencer Collins), who gets punched in the face by Alex. We get it. Alex likes to intimidate criminals and federal agents.

One day, Alex gets a visit from someone who describes herself as an agent from “British intelligence.” She won’t say the word “MI6,” but everything in the movie indicates that she’s from MI6. Her name is Jennifer Smith (played by Dominique Tipper), who informs Alex that she needs his help in catching an international terrorist who has shown an extraordinary ability to evade capture. Why was Alex chosen? Jennifer says Alex has a reputation for being the best Texas Ranger to catch fugitives.

The terrorist is Declan McBride (played by Dean Jagger), whom Jennifer describes as an “ex-provisional IRA wanted for a string of terrorist activities on and off the British mainland.” She also describes Declan and “vicious” and “resourceful.” Jennifer says that to get money, Declan charges a “small fee” to rob banks. He then passes on the proceeds from his robberies “to the worst criminal causes imaginable.”

Jennifer has gotten a tip that Declan is planning a big job in Great Britain, and he might or might not be hiding in a part of Mexico that’s close to the Texas border. The rest of “One Ranger” alternates between showing Declan and showing Alex (with Jennifer sometimes accompanying him) in this fugitive pursuit. There are several uninteresting, time-wasting scenes in the tedious buildup to the predictable final showdown.

Alex goes to London at one point to meet Jennifer’s boss: a prickly cynic named Geddes (played by Malkovich), who talks in a weird cadence and sounds like he’s slurring his words. Don’t be fooled by Malkovich sharing headline billing with Jane for this movie. Malkovich’s screen time in the 95-minute “One Ranger” is less than 10 minutes.

The movie has a few boring scenes of Declan meeting with a terrorist crony named Yuri the Cossack (played by Nick Moran, doing a terrible Eastern European accent), a character that doesn’t add anything substantial to the story. Declan is shown having relationship problems with his disheveled and angry lover Angel (played by Rachel Wilde), who has one glass eye and who gets drunk a lot. Declan also has a muscular protector named Oleg Jakovenko (played by Jess Liaudin), who has a stereotypical brutish role.

Tipper makes some effort to bring some spark to her performance as Jennifer, but Jane is just going through the expected motions for his robotic Alex character. Jagger (who is American in real life) does a very questionable Northern Irish accent as Declan. Everyone else in the cast is easily forgettable because their characters are so banal. “One Ranger” is the kind of “one and done” movie that only needs to be watched once, and it will be probably be followed by the feeling that the time could have been spent watching a much better film.

Lionsgate released “One Ranger” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on May 5, 2023. The movie will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 13, 2023.

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