Sniper: Reloaded

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posted on March 23, 2011
sniper-small.jpg

...you haven't just seen the movie "Sniper," it's squirreled away in a particularly easy-to-locate section of your DVD library. The 1993 release showcased the surgical effect of precision shooting, with Tom Berenger playing the main role as Gunny Thomas Beckett. Actor Billy Zane played Richard Miller, a wet-behind-the-ears operative with unimpeachable shooting credentials, but no field experience.

The behind-the-trigger education in "Sniper: Reloaded"—from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment—has a somewhat similar theme, but this time it's Miller (played by an older Billy Zane) doing the teaching, with Gunney Beckett's son (Sgt. Brandon Beckett, played by Chad Michael Collins) acting as the understudy. Actually, this Sgt. Beckett at first doesn't approve of the sniper approach and apparently didn't get along well with his father, so there are no long dissertations in regard to breathing control, shot placement, bullet selection or doping the wind. The movie is more of a "Heart of Darkness" journey, delivered in a Joseph Conrad-defying 90 minutes, with enough mayhem to give any action movie addict a serious fix.

With tons of action, pauses are only long enough to deliver a memorable line or two. I won't give away the context, but if you watch the movie I dare you not to laugh when Miller says, "I love it so much I'm doing it right now."

I watched it with my teen grandchildren, twice. There's something satisfying about bolt-action rifles mowing down a superior force of AK-74-wielding Congolese rebels. The untrained and underage rebels aren't the real problem, though. Out there in the jungle, Sgt. Beckett is looking for a highly trained sniper who took out his veteran squad of Marines while on a U.N. mission.

There's even a hot British babe in a uniform she doesn't like wearing much. OK, she's only in a couple of scenes, so it's rated R for "bloody violence, language and brief sexuality."

There was some research done by director Claudio Faeh's ("Hollow Man II") team. Range estimation using mils warmed me to the show early on, but it wasn't any of the current Horus reticles they were using. A few .50 BMGs pop up during the movie, but the M24 and whatever bolt-action rifle the professional hunter loaned an ailing Sgt. Beckett predominate. Yes, there were other technical issues I wish were handled better, including a cheek weld on an M4 higher than any of the giraffes that made cameo appearances (along with a rhino, a couple tuskers and a warthog). But what to heck, it's Hollyweird, so you can't expect them to get everything right.

"Sniper: Reloaded" will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 26, 2011, but orders are being taken now. Expect to pay $30.95 and $24.96 respectively. Since my review copy reverts to black and white periodically with a copyright notice and insists on tripping the amplifier's circuit breaker every time I have it cranked up enough that my 250 watt base allows me to feel bullet impacts, I guess I'll be buying a copy.

And I tell people I'm going deaf because I'm testing too many guns.

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