Scott Caan not only stars but wrote this Coen Brothers/Tarantino-inspired dramedy where a series of madcap events all connect into one cohesive plot.
Jackie Powers is a former boxer who has become an enforcer for local mob boss Pauly Russo. His latest job is to confront Walter Boggs, a local who owes $100,000 to Pauly. When Jackie learns he is at the diner, he intends to just scare him off. However, a mishap causes Jackie to accidentally kill the owner of the place and Boggs narrowly escapes. Jackie sees waitress Lola and decides to hold her hostage. Lo and behold, Pauly has learned what has happened and he is not happy.
Jackie, not exactly the tough guy type, explains to Lola why he confronted Boggs and why he is doing what he does now. Jackie’s son Billy is in juvenile prison after being coerced into kidnapping. Billy is due a hearing and Jackie is planning to get the money to help him out. Meanwhile, Boggs warns both Pauly and his number one Dom that he will pay the debt when he’s good and ready or he will inform law enforcement. Lola has an idea that could help Jackie and soon enough, it causes a bond between kidnapper and kidnappee to grow stronger. Can Jackie get out of this jam before it’s too late and will Pauly get his money back or will all hell break loose?
Director John Swab and writer/lead actor Scott Caan collaborated well with this film that has the feel of both a Quentin Tarantino and Coen Brothers vibe with this tale of a threat gone wrong and all the players involved are both connected and have their own stories that interconnect cohesively thanks to Caan’s crisp writing.
Caan does a great job playing ex-boxer turned mob enforcer Jackie, who is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. From the moment we meet him, we know he is a bumbling type, but you have to praise as to why he’s doing what he does. All he cares about is getting his son out of juvenile prison. There are some great scenes within the prison walls where Billy, played in a great breakout performance by Dash Melrose, is clearly scared and needs to find a way out.
Frank Grillo gets to show off a comedic side as mob boss Pauly when it comes to his interactions with number one Dom, played by George Carroll. Marianne Rendon is great as Lola, the waitress who at first seems a bit timid when Jackie kidnaps her, but it is she who gets the confidence to help him out of his jam by attempting to coerce her dying mother, a rich widow, to help and making the most of that mother role is the great Virginia Madsen, who is just funny as she doesn’t care about death as long as she gets her cigarettes and crab legs. J.K. Simmons once again shows why he is one of the best in his role of intended target Walter Boggs, who attempts to turn the tides on his hunters because he seems to have some authority is like a mob boss himself.
Taryn Manning makes the most of her role as well as Jackie’s ex and Billy’s mother, who doesn’t seem to care about Jackie and doesn’t offer much when it comes to helping Billy as well. She is a natural when it comes to playing these tough roles and could we say that Billy Blair’s Kenny Walsh deserves his own spinoff film. He is clearly set to be the next Better Call Saul because Blair’s performance is so good that he deserves his own spinoff as the TV lawyer extraordinare.
One Day as a Lion is definitely a great film especially for those who love Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Scott Caan not only impresses in his lead role, but proves he is an amazing writer with this film. Definitely recommended!
WFG RATING: A-
Lionsgate presents a Roxwell Films in association with Three Point Capital. Director: John Swab. Producer: Jeremy M. Rosen. Writer: Scott Caan. Cinematography: Will Stone. Editing: Andrew Aaronson.
Cast: Scott Caan, Frank Grillo, J.K. Simmons, George Carroll, Marianne Rendon, Taryn Manning, Dash Melrose, Virginia Madsen, Gabriel Hansen.
The film will be released in select theaters on April 4 then on VOD and Digital on April 7.