The writer and director, former stuntman Jesse V. Johnson (“Avengement”), throws audiences into the middle of action. There’s a bank robbery out in a patch of Texas territory monitored by Texas Ranger Alex Tyree (Jane) that was spearheaded by a former IRA member named Declan McBride (Dean Jagger). Alex is in the process of arresting a local thief (Gregory Zaragoza) when McBride’s gang comes driving through the area, tailed by a couple of deputies. The matter is settled by Ranger Alex commandeering the antique rifle that the thief just stole and making a series of miraculous long-distance shots. The sole survivor, the Irishman, flees to Mexico.
But no sooner has our hero had a chance to enjoy a little down time with his lady than the British government comes calling, asking Alex to travel to Mexico and extradite Declan McBride. The Mexican police won’t ordinarily allow such an extradition, but they’re willing to bend the rules in this case on the condition that Alex take the prisoner, because they respect Alex, you see? He’s special, not like the others. (Before pitching the mission to Alex, the Brits butter him up by praising “the elite investigative skills of the Texas Rangers”).
As you might imagine, the prisoner transfer does not go as planned, and Alex has to recapture McBride because he’s the only person brave enough, cool enough, and good enough to do it. “Nice hat, very subtle,” says a British “Control” officer (John Malkovich) who’s Alex’s sorta-supervisor in England. “I’ll buy you one,” Alex replies.
“One Ranger” deserves a certain amount of credit for knowing exactly what it wants to be: an American Red State answer to James Bond, about a hero who’s so incredibly awesome that his reputation always precedes him, and who kinda represents the spirit of his country, even though he makes a point of letting everyone know that he’s just one a guy doing a job (ergo, the film’s title). I can’t think of a single scene that doesn’t occur in a location where action always occurs in these sorts of films (a desert road, a warehouse). Nobody’s openly racist or xenophobic, yet the various power arrangements governing all the action go unquestioned and mostly unremarked upon (except for stray comments about power and money determining outcomes in life). Virtually every character is some kind of racial, ethnic, or national stereotype, flattened out to video game NPC levels. A Ukrainian who helps Alex has a tall Nutcracker-style fur hat and tells him, “It is unwise to refuse generosity of Cossack.”