Army of One (2020)

Spartacus and Into the Badlands actor Ellen Hollman is set to be the next big female action star with this action-packed indie thriller.

Former Special Forces 1st Lieutenant Brenner Baker is planning a camping trip with her husband Dillon on the backwoods of Alabama. When they arrive to the site, they are warned by the park ranger that the locals don’t take too kindly to newcomers. Despite the warning, Brenner and Dillon begin their camping trip and make the most of nature. They decide to go on a hike where trouble soon follows. During their hike, they stumble upon an illegal drug and arms compound. When they attempt to escape, they are captured by the cartel.

After being tortured, Brenner is forced to watch Dillon get killed by cartel heavy Butch. When Brenner is shot, the group leaves her for dead. However, they have made a big mistake. Not only is Brenner alive, but she is also now seething with revenge. She begins a one-woman assault against the cartel, which is led by the sweet matriarch Mama. Along the way, Brenner saves a young woman, Emily, who was kidnapped and is now pregnant by Butch. Brenner decides enough is enough and seeks to end the cartel one way or another.

It looks like John Wick has sparked something very special. Taking the typical revenge plot and adding a dose of some of the best close quarters action, in the case with Wick, unleashing a combination of gunfire and Jiu-Jitsu, to go after the villains. Atomic Blonde followed a similar formula with Charlize Theron kicking serious butt during the Cold War. This is the work of the world renowned 87Eleven Stunt Team, who is the elite team of Hollywood stunts today. Now, they offer their work in the indie film circuit with this film which is a messing of both John Wick and The Marine if you will.

The reason to see this film can be summed up in two words: Ellen Hollman. The actress, known for her roles in TV series such as Spartacus and Into the Badlands, gets to show both an emotional range and her amazing action skills in the role of protagonist Brenner Baker, who seeks revenge against the redneck cartel responsible for her husband’s death and her near fatal encounter. Unlike other films such as Peppermint or Kidnap, Brenner is already a badass as she is a soldier. One who takes no crap from anyone and yet remained loyal to her husband Dillon, played by Matt Passmore.

The villains are quite a bunch themselves. While it may be teased that Gary Kasper’s Butch is the leader of the cartel, we soon learn that the one who leads the group is actually Mama, played by a combination of sincerity with cringiness by Geraldine Singer. She totally pulls off the sweet nature before amping up the terror in the film. Kendra Carelli pulls off a very emotional performance as Emily, a young woman victimized by the cartel only to find Brenner as a potential savior.

It is when she revives from her encounter that we get to seriously see her in total badass revenge mode. Normally in these types of films, it may take an exploitation level. However, in this case, Hollman goes all John Wick on these bad guys. A combination of her skills in Jiu-Jitsu and the fact her husband, Stephen Dunlevy, is the stunt coordinator on the film just shows that Hollman is gearing up to be the next big female action star. The highlight is a one-take fight scene that starts with Brenner telling Emily that she plans to “clean house”. The film leaves room for a potential sequel and hopefully, this will be the case.

Army of One has a badass female heroine, nothing exploitative, and some frenetic fight scenes with Ellen Hollman leading the way as the next big female action hero.

WFG RATING: A-

Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Second Nature Films production in association with Popcorn and Soda Productions and Split Point Pictures. Director: Stephen Dunham. Producers: Ellen Hollman, Stephen Dunham, and HemDee Kiwanuka. Writers: Mary Ann Barnes, Stephen Dunham, Ellen Hollman, and David Dittlinger. Cinematography: Jon Schweigart. Editing: Joe Grayem.

Cast: Ellen Hollman, Matt Passmore, Gary Kasper, Geraldine Singer, Kendra Carelli, Stephen Dunlevy, Barry Hanley, Casey Hendershot, Stephanie Lynn Styles, Cameron Bowen.

The film will be released on DVD and Digital on December 15, 2020.

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