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It feels like a direct-to-video dream team - Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Dolph Lundgren? - but One in the Chamber ends up being a stone cold turkey....
Anchor Bay / 91 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: August 21, 2012
Movies like One in the Chamber don't necessarily have to be unpredictable to work - truth be told, many of us turn to films like this one to switch off our brains, crack open a beer and relax on the couch while the body count ticks up. But even as straight-to-video shoot-em-ups go, this Cuba Gooding, Jr./Dolph Lundgren actioner is pedantic and silly: every now and then Lundgren channels his inner Ivan Drago and Cuba unleashes the chops that won him an Oscar so many years ago, but 90% of One in the Chamber is super-dull.
When it stays straight and true, the picture drums up its most palpable potential. Cuba plays Ray Carver, a hitman known as a 'fixer' who gets hired by one mob family to blow out a rival one, and for a minute it seems like sniper vs. sniper affair between Carver and Aleksey "The Wolf" Andreev (that's Dolph) might be enough to keep One in the Chamber within cheesy yet enjoyable parameters. But the film gets overly complicated, and any hope for smooth, bare-bones action gets dashed.
Yet even if there's no way around referring to One in the Chamber as a patently crappy movie, it surely knows what its fanboy audience wants, and two or three times in the film, it feels like home. Dolph does what he's best at - he mumbles through dialogue and sneers whenever he can - and even though Gooding seems a bit out of place here, when he gets behind a machine gun and goes apeshit for just a second, One in the Chamber feels like the reliably average late-night rental it has the vestige of being.
...and then it just turns into a crappy flick. As a placeholder between the explosions of the summer multiplex season and the arrival of Expendables 2 on Blu-ray (can't wait!), One in the Chamber surely isn't the de facto worst movie of the year, but it's not going to find too many defenders with this Blu-ray edition. Anything with Dolph Lundgren starring in it will find a modicum of Rocky IV-revved support, but even Drago himself probably wouldn't watch One in the Chamber a second time.