One Day As A Lion
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

One Day As A Lion Lacks Roar

Scott Caan takes a break from tracking down missing people to go to the opposite side of the law in One Day As A Lion from Lionsgate. Caan also pens the screenplay while John Swab is in the director’s chair, with this film serving as their fourth collaboration.

Jackie Powers (Caan) is a nice guy but a lousy hitman who will stop at nothing to prevent his son Billy (Dash Merleose) from following him into a life of crime. Unfortunately, things aren’t going well for Billy since he is currently in the juvenile hall awaiting trial. When Jackie is sent to take out crafty debtor Walter Boggs (J.K. Simmons), Jackie only pisses him off. Fleeing the scene, Jackie holds bored waitress Lola (Marianne Rendon) hostage. When Jackie reveals he needs money to get his son out of jail, Lola cooks up a scheme for them to get cash from her dying mother, Valerie (Virginia Madsen).

Meanwhile, Jackie’s boss, mobster Pauly Russo (Frank Grillo), has tasked petty thug Don (George Carroll) to kill Jackie for his failed mission. Further complicating matters, not only is Dom a former protégé of Jackie, but he is also sleeping with Jackie’s ex Taylor (Taryn Manning) and the mother of his son.

Since his debut in 1995’s little-seen A Boy Called Hate which co-starred his father, legendary tough James Caan, one thing I’ve always commended Scott for is avoiding nepotism. While Scott has shared the screen with the likes of A-list talent such as Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, and Brad Pitt, I don’t think he broke through until he got the role of Danny Williams on the 2010 Hawaii Five-0 reboot, which ran for ten seasons. Caan has previously written three other feature films, none of which I’ve enjoyed viewing. However, I like his acting style, so I was open to giving this film a chance.

Regretfully though, One Day As A Lion fails on every level in an attempt to serve as a witty homage to Tarantino and the Coen brothers. For starters, Jackie is an unlikable character in the sense of the word. There is nothing wrong with a soft-in-the-head assassin, but Caan’s characterization of Jackie gives us no reason to root for him. He goes from scene to scene phoning in the performance, and the rest of the cast brings little to the table.

Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and fellow nominee Virginia Madsen are only in the film for a check, while Frank Grillo never gets to kick any ass. Plot points are particularly abandoned in the one between Taylor and Don’s affair. In contrast, the law enforcement characters in the film all come across complete dunces. I’m not a Back the blue supporter, but even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief that law enforcement in the film are this clueless.

Finally, the film tries to improve things in the third act with a shoot-out sequence that goes nowhere. Since Scott Caan currently has a starring role on the FOX hit Alert: Missing Persons Unit, which was recently renewed for a second season, his career will bounce back from this stinker. However, don’t be surprised if One Day As A Lion ends up in my year’s ten worst.


Final Grade : D-

ONE DAY AS A LION  is in select Theaters on April 4, 2023, and is available on Demand and Digital on April 7, 2023.

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