Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 16
  2. Negative: 2 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Sep 19, 2013
    70
    A Single Shot never rises to the level of a great film like “Winter’s Bone,” which digs much deeper in its depiction of life in the hills among the desperate poor. But thanks largely to Rockwell, it’s not bad, either.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Sep 19, 2013
    50
    In lieu of suspense, Rosenthal relies on a mood of free-floating anxiety, enhanced by West Virginia (actually British Columbia) landscapes where the sun never shines. As one-note as the title suggests, A Single Shot misfires.
  3. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 18, 2013
    83
    The suspense comes and goes, but A Single Shot always maintains a firm grip on its sad, deteriorating environment.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Sep 18, 2013
    80
    The film charts no new territory but is terrifically cast and, like its source novel, long on atmosphere.
  5. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 19, 2013
    40
    Who would have guessed that sex, drugs and double-crossing could be so unrelentingly boring?
  6. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Sep 17, 2013
    25
    What passes for a plot has been done a thousand times before — in much better films than A Single Shot.
  7. Reviewed by: Tomas Hachard
    Sep 20, 2013
    55
    By the end, Macy's presence is just one part of what makes A Single Shot recall the Coen brothers' "Fargo." That film's now-famous wood-chipper scene can seem strangely tame a decade and a half on, but it still has a lesson to teach: When you show violence in a story that's not really about violence, there'd better be more of a point than just making us squirm.
  8. Reviewed by: Christy Lemire
    Sep 20, 2013
    50
    An odd mix of beautifully bleak atmosphere and hammily mannered performances, A Single Shot is simultaneously understated and overpowering.
  9. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jul 24, 2013
    75
    Content to faithfully hew to convention, A Single Shot rarely surprises, but its portrait of foolishness and fallibility, and its atmosphere of inevitable doom, remain sturdy and captivating.
  10. Reviewed by: Scott MacDonald
    Sep 18, 2013
    42
    It’s largely just an opportunity for the actors to try on Ozark-y mannerisms, swig moonshine, and hock loogies. And like most exercises in authenticity, it couldn’t be more inauthentic if it tried.
  11. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Aug 25, 2013
    70
    Its ongoing reveal of interconnected, rough-edged characters, as well as a tone that’s a twangy, noirish brew of the Coen brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, and Winter’s Bone, are ultimately what make the movie unsettling and absorbing.
  12. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Sep 20, 2013
    30
    Both the director and writer show such patchy story sense that a lot of the buildup to the final bloodshed and malevolence registers as suspense-free clutter.
  13. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Sep 19, 2013
    40
    Mr. Rosenthal puts the story’s parts into play well enough, but once everyone and everything is in position that’s more or less where they stay as this slow story downshifts to a crawl.
  14. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Sep 20, 2013
    58
    A Single Shot does not add up to anywhere near the sum of its parts.
  15. Reviewed by: Stephen Garrett
    Sep 17, 2013
    60
    Rockwell’s performance is impressively flinty, as is the rest of the cast (including William H. Macy delivering some twitchy character work), and the dialogue sparkles with brilliantly colorful mountain-man slang. Despite its byzantine narrative, the film remains never less than absorbing, as the walls slowly close in on this good-hearted but ultimately flawed protagonist.
  16. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Sep 17, 2013
    80
    David M. Rosenthal's sturdy, nasty rural noir, based on Matthew F. Jones's novel, is so sharp and rusted through that, after taking it in, you'll likely need a tetanus shot.
User Score
5.7

Mixed or average reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Sep 20, 2013
    5
    This film just does not have enough juice and has a tendency to just crawl along. The film is well made and Sam Rockwell does his best with what he's been given, but unfortunately that's not much. C Full Review »
  2. Dec 30, 2013
    6
    I like the mystery of this film, I liked the tone and I loved the cast! However, the film tends to forget its methodical, slow pace towards the end and decides that they did enough character development and decides to wrap things up quickly…whether or not you knew who the responsible parties were. This movie could have been great if more care was taking into the growth and development of the players (heck, even just making sure the characters are introduced by name would have helped) as it was to make sure the film was dark, grimy and depressing. While not terrible, “A Single Shot” triumphs with great performances and a fantastic tone but fails with its lack of expansion on some important players in the story. Full Review »
  3. Oct 18, 2013
    5
    I really wanted to like it more than I did it has lots of good parts, like the cast and the cinematography, but you keep asking yourself why you'd want to identify with the lead character, and for me, I couldn't come up with an answer. Rockwell's acting is terrific, but his John Moon gets fooled all the time, outwitted by idiots, doesn't take hints, makes foolish moves, and just makes it hard to like him, even as an anti-hero.

    Compare this to a masterwork like No Country For Old Men, and you'll see that each part pales in comparison by at least a little. No Country may have dark characters, but they're fascinating and their actions are interesting and worthy of contemplating Single Shot is missing this.

    All told, however, it's that first minute where you watch John Moon make a bad decision and you never recover your faith in his ability to lead you to a satisfying end.
    Full Review »