“One Take Only” – A.J. Hakari

One Take Only shows traces of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde peeking out of its story about two young people hoping for better lives than the unsavory existences they’re leading, then turning to crime as a way out. Unfortunately, the movie forms flimsy emotional connections with its characters, serves up a simplistic story that goes nowhere, and falls on its face as it tries to come up with a profound ending.

 

Our protagonists for this look into the dangerous world of being a criminal in Bangkok are Som (Wanatchada Siwapornchai) and Bank (Pavarit Mongkolpisit). Som is a small-time hooker becoming tired of selling herself, while Bank is a small-time drug dealer, who scores a couple of good deals whenever he’s not getting beaten up by strangers. When these two meet, not knowing they’ve been living in the same building for years, neither is aware of the other’s true occupation. But Som and Bank connect due to their desire to get out of the economic quagmire they’re stuck in — and diving deeper into a life of crime is the only way they can think of to get out. A big delivery that comes Bank’s way lands the duo with more money than they imagined, but when another deal looms on the horizon, he and Som must decide whether to take the money and run or risk getting further caught up in the world they’re both trying to leave.

 

I knew One Take Only was in trouble when I realized the events described above took about 70 minutes of the movie’s 90-minute running time. Plotwise, One Take Only is firmly stuck in the mud, and filmmaker Oxide Pang is the guy who keeps spinning those tires, blissfully unaware that he’s not really going anywhere. The movie certainly gets off to a decent start, giving viewers a good grasp of the characters and their personalities (the movie’s funniest scene involves an imaginary convenience store hold-up that still manages to go wrong for Bank). But when it comes to establishing a relationship between the two leads, Pang is surprisingly lacking in skill, just kind of matching up Som and Bank out of nowhere and never really defining the driving force between their togetherness. As far as the audience knows, they hook up because there’s nothing better to do, and it’s tough to gather sympathy from a relationship formed purely to serve the plot.

 

One Take Only obviously wants to be a stylish yet effective morality tale, a modestly powerful film to make a lasting impression upon those who watch it, but it’s disappointing to see the film slowly become the opposite of what it’s trying to be. It ends up being a simplistic “life of crime” tale without an emotional core or an interesting story or colorful characters we care about. Almost everyone in the supporting cast is either a drug runner or one of Som’s clients, so the acting power is left up to the two leads, and even that brings mixed results. The beautiful Wanatchada Siwapornchai turns in a reflective turn as Som, whose life goal is to stop being a lady of the night, but Pavarit Mongkolpisit is less than enthralling as the hapless criminal wannabe Bank.

 

One Take Only is one of those movies I hate to rate so low, merely because I’d rather see it than many other films in the same rating range (I’ll take a lackluster crime drama over Herbie: Fully Loaded any day of the week). But because of its high levels of predictability, paper-thin story, and speed-of-molasses storytelling, One Take Only earns a smidge over one star only from me.

 

Rating: ★½☆☆

 

-A.J. Hakari

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