Heroes walk alone.
Well, it has been a long time between reviews hasn’t it! I am going to try to get more reviews up far more frequently than one every sixteen months - shouldn’t be hard should it?! Time will tell!
Sniper: Ghost Shooter is the sixth in the Sniper series that started in 1992 with Tom Berenger as Thomas Beckett and Billy Zane as Richard Miller. Tom continued on making sequels by himself (parts 2 and 3) but for part 4 - Sniper: Reloaded - we were introduced to Thomas Beckett’s son, Brandon (played by Chad Michael Collins). In that film he was teamed up with Zane’s Richard Miller. The next film was the father-son combination, Sniper: Legacy. But for this latest outing - Sniper: Ghost Shooter - Richard Miller and Brandon Beckett are back, and they brought a whole team with them.
Starting with a group of terrorists transporting prisoners in inflatable boats along a Syrian river to their execution on the beach (you’ve all seen excerpts of the real-life versions of these), the film doesn’t take long to introduce us to our first pow-wow. Miller and his team have been sent on mission to intercept and rescue the prisoners (though amusingly, through one conversation with the Colonel the go ahead is only given when it was identified that the prisoners were American!). Anyway, it’s a by the numbers but reasonably exciting first battle full of CG-squibs and a pretty crap (it must be said) computer generated helicopter and drone combination. Beckett’s hesitation to shoot the child-aged executioner compromises the mission and sets up a character flaw that the viewer can relate to.
Following some downtime, the team are brought on to do a private job for the Colonel (played by Dennis Haysbert of Jarhead 3: The Siege - another decent modern military action film) - protect a natural gas pipeline that runs through Eastern Europe and take out a Russian gangster. The team are ambushed by unseen rival snipers and friendly lives are lost. How did the enemy get the drop on them? Becket has his suspicions, and the punching-out of a senior Georgian Colonel sees him on probation in the snowy mountains where even more shootouts happen - I lost count at around five - good news for action fans. The splitting of the team and the tangents in plot could have been done a little better, but it serves the purpose of helping eliminate possibilities as to who is the snitching on their location to the enemy at every battle.
The film production is high for DTV with very little shaky-cam, though at times we do get the classic Seagal time-montage employment of fast moving camera swishes and flashing pulses. Director Don Michael Paul (who directed the previous film Sniper: Legacy, as well as war film Company of Heroes and franchise-reboot Tremors 5) does a fine job ensuring that the action is always clear and never obscured by poor camera work. Much of the shooting is shown through the sniper scope, with follow-on body damage. I particularly enjoyed the backdrops chosen for the Georgia portion of the film with a few great scenes in the snow.
We learn a little about the team as the movie progresses, but the focus is on the two stars. Robin Slater (Stephanie Vogt) gets a little more screen time as the more technical officer, but the rest of the team are delegated to grunt status. The Georgian equivalent to Zane’s Miller character, Andrei Mashkov (played by Ravil Isyanov) is a nice contrast to the clean-cut American soldiers and adds some humour as well. As for script; the main dialogue between Becket and Miler is fine, but some of the lines spouted by others were a bit average, one of the worst offenders coming from Slater: “Something’s wrong. I feel it in my bones.” states the Colonel. “I don’t trust bones. I trust 1’s and 0’s.” Gah!
Sniper: Ghost Shooter is another solid, straight-forward entry in the franchise. Collins performs well in the lead and we did not get shafted on Zane screen-time either. Good fun for modern military action fans that can handle some cheap-ish looking computer graphics.
I mentioned a groan-inducing line earlier, but there was also some gold from Georgian soldier Andrei Mashkov: “Hello to my Russian friend!” riffing on Scarface, referring to Becket only as “American” and even quoting John McClane's “Yippee ki yay”.