Choosing a different approach to action war movies, Sniper focuses on a two-man sniper team deployed deep in the jungles of Panama. This means there won’t be mindless shootout scenes but more of a suspenseful examination of what it means to carry out such a mission. We had movies about snipers before but this one proved there’s a lot of interest in these silent and deadly operators. I mean, this movie spawned freaking eight sequels with the ninth one currently in production. We will be following Becket, an experienced sniper assigned a young hotshot to accompany him on a dangerous mission.
I caught Sniper one night in the late nineties and it instantly became one of my favorite movies at the time. The hero wasn’t some huge walking muscle but an experienced and calm man. Moreover, Sniper is very similar to one of my other favorite movies, Predator. The setting is the same and some of the scenes are very similar. So similar in fact that I’m certain they just decided to blatantly rip off the 1987 classic. One of the main differences is the focus on the relationship between Becket and Miller.
The chemistry between Tom Berenger and Billy Zane wasn’t great but it was satisfactory. At least Berenger nailed his fucking role as a veteran sniper who’s numb to it all. Billy was struggling to find his character reverting back to Cal antics he pulled off a couple of years ago in Dead Calm. We’ll also have the opportunity to see a bit of J.T. Walsh. And as we all know, if this is a J.T. Walsh movie, it can’t be bad. They tried their best to develop these characters but the results are quite limited. So, lower your expectations and you should be fine.
Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Beckett and his spotter, Cpl. Papich are on their way to the extraction point after another successful mission. However, just as they were about to board the chopper, Papich is shot by a hidden enemy sniper. Beckett manages to escape and not long after is sent on another dangerous mission. This time he finds himself in Panama with a new, inexperienced spotter. Only this time, things will start going wrong almost immediately.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sniper was hugely popular in Europe. Since it was fairly cheap to air, it soon became one of the action classics. And, like it or not, Sniper is a solid movie, worth watching. It’s realistic, showing just how messy the execution of these covert missions can get. As far as weapons are concerned, Becket uses Remington Model 700 (M40) sniper rifle. Miller sports Heckler & Koch SR9 and the sniper guy chasing them the iconic SVD Dragunov. Oddly enough, all three weapons were first manufactured in the late sixties.
As the years went on, we started getting more and more sniper movies. Enemy at the Gates was the first of the modern movies featuring snipers in action followed by Jarhead, Shooter, and finally American Sniper. Of course, during all this time, there were many low-budget and B movies exploring similar themes. Some of them are actually quite decent like Elephant White or The Marksman.
Director: Luis Llosa
Writers: Michael Frost Beckner, Crash Leyland
Cast: Tom Berenger, Billy Zane, J.T. Walsh, Frederick Miragliotta, Kenneth Radley
Fun Facts: The Japanese release was titled ‘A Mountain Cat Never Sleeps’.