Direct-To-Video Showcase: ‘Sniper: Reloaded’
Direct-To-Video Showcase: ‘Sniper: Reloaded’

“Sniper: Reloaded” comes in as the fourth film in the “Sniper” franchise. You didn’t know there was such a thing as a “Sniper” franchise? Don’t feel too bad, before I watched it I didn’t either.

I only kinda, sorta remembered the original “Sniper” from 1993 in that I remembered it starred Tom Berenger and I’m going to assume involved sniping.

Apparently “Sniper” and its direct-to-video sequels were the only things standing between America and bizarre, rambling awards-acceptance speeches.

Since Berenger decided enough was enough, the sniping mantle has been passed to his character’s son, a young Marine sergeant named Brandon Beckett played by Chad Michael Collins (who in spite of a name perfectly built for Christian rock instead chose to pursue a career in B-movie acting).

Because our young Mr. Beckett must be schooled in the sniping arts, and Berenger is nowhere to be found, that task falls to Berenger’s protégé from the first “Sniper,” Billy Zane!

Zane, who grew himself an impressive mustache for this movie, has always been an actor I felt could have been a big star. In the 90s he always seemed on the verge of a breakout role that just never came.

But he did get some decent supporting roles in movies like “Tombstone” and “Titanic,” and headlined a terrible superhero movie; plus the guy knows how to get excited about a walk-off. In a lot of ways, he has had the same career arc as Ben Affleck, only with less success and no late-career rejuvenation.

To his credit, he does make “Sniper: Reloaded” markedly better when he’s onscreen, so there is that.

In fact, this movie was nowhere near as gloriously terrible as I expected it to be. Sure it still sucks and the plot is paper-thin but there are enough flashes of competence to hold your attention for a good two-thirds of the movie.

The movie benefits most from being a South African production so Beckett’s mission as a UN peacekeeper in the Congo at least has the backdrop of authenticity.

And there are lots of wildlife shots that appeal to the part of me that likes to go to the zoo. Hey, a giraffe! Hey, an elephant! Hey Billy Zane!

“Sniper: Reloaded” is an action movie and there are plenty of expertly blocked scenes filled with gunfire and explosions. Unfortunately, all of these sequences are about as mechanical and joyless as Beckett’s love scene with his superior officer, played by Annabel Wright.

If anything this movie made me just feel bad for Zane. When your career has fallen to the point that you’re taking roles that Tom Berenger doesn’t want maybe the time has come to do some serious soul searching.

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