Tom Berenger in Sniper (1993)

Shoots Wide

US Marine Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger) is an expert sniper, the best of the best but who finds himself needing a new spotter when due to the incompetence of others his current spotter is killed by another sniper's bullet. He finds himself being partnered up with Richard Miller (Billy Zane) an Olympic marksman who now works at the Pentagon and is technically out ranks him despite working assigned as his spotter on this mission. That mission involves taking out a rebel leader and a Colombian drug lord but having never shot anything other than targets and no experience in the jungle it is going to lead to difficulties between the men as Miller's incompetence puts them in danger.

For ages a certain TV channel in the UK would show "Sniper 2" and "Sniper 3" but never the first one and I decided that I had to watch the first "Sniper" before watching the sequels. Having finally done so I can't say the wait was worth while as whilst "Sniper" isn't a bad movie it certainly didn't feel like it was worthy of a succession of sequels. In fact it wasn't the exciting movie I had hoped it to be and seemed at times to play more like a comedy.

Billy Zane in Sniper (1993)

That comedy aspects comes from the obvious set up of the experienced Beckett saddled with the completely inexperienced Miller who thinks he knows it but keeps on messing up. It isn't full on comedy but from watching Miller putting camouflage make up with a pocket mirror and struggling to find his footing all have obvious comedy elements. I suppose technically it is entertaining and not much of a surprise when you consider that "Sniper" was made in the early 90s when odd couple style buddy movies were the rage. But this odd couple style comedy does the movie little in the way of favours when it comes to creating the tension which there should be between Beckett and Miller.

You could say this makes "Sniper" unbalanced and that shows up in the acting as well with Tom Berenger looking as at home crawling around the jungle as he does when playing a horse riding tracker. It is mainly thanks to Berenger that "Sniper" remains entertaining as he creates the more consistent and interesting character as well as the most believable. But then there is Billy Zane and if "Sniper" had been a buddy comedy would have been perfect but in a movie which screams out for tension is wrong, although he certainly delivers the inexperience side of his character quite nicely.

What this all boils down to is that "Sniper" ends up not the movie I expected it to be with its unnecessary inclusion of humorous moments early on which unbalance the movie and rob it off its tension. But it is still watchable with a decent ending and the casting of Tom Berenger making it more entertaining than it deserves to be.