Sony // 2004 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 13th, 2004
The first killer was unpredictable. This time, he's unstoppable.
Scope it out.
Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger, Major League) has a history as the U.S. Military's deadliest sniper. But these days he's been put out to pasture, chewing cud in training simulators teaching sniper rookies how to shoot straight.
He eventually gets a chance at getting back into the field and leaving his washed-up days behind. Hand-picked by the NSA director, Beckett is ordered to Vietnam to meet up with a contact named Quan (Byron Mann), a hot-shot undercover cop on the verge of busting one of the biggest criminal cartels in Southeast Asia.
Beckett's orders are to take out the leader, a former American agent named Finnegan, who's also the man who saved his life in the Vietnam War. Beckett must set aside the feelings he had for his old friend to carry out his mission: wipe out Finnegan before his capture by the Vietnamese police reveals a colossal diplomatic embarrassment for the U.S., as well as put his arms trading permanently out of business.
But after the assassination attempt goes sour, allegiances are called into question, and Beckett soon finds himself abandoned by his government and pursued by the Vietnamese authorities.
With no one left to turn to besides his new cop buddy, he goes after his old friend rogue style. Sniper rifle in hand and bad-ass, dual-gun-wielding Vietnamese supercop by his side, Beckett embarks on a rootin'-tootin' blazing road of vengeance and death by bamboo impalement (see below).
I've never seen the first or second Sniper. But if the prequels are anything like this one, I just might be interested. Coming into this flick, my expectations were ground-zero, but Berenger and crew managed to leave me happy.
Sniper 3 beats the towering odds of direct-to-video action flicks and comes out significantly un-sucky. Why, you ask? Let me count the ways.
Kudos to the crew for putting together some decent pyrotechnics for a low-budget flick. I remember watching some dopey Navy SEALs actioner where a helicopter supposedly blew up, but upon closer inspection, the producers detonated a picnic table and superimposed the explosion onto the helicopter. None of that here.
Two handguns baby!
Pointless, sure -- but two-fisted gun-play is fun. Quan is a cool action sidekick and transmits a solid amount of kick-assitude with his violence. Is it really necessary to unload two full clips into one gunman, especially with other bad guys lurking about? No...but screw it!
Solid action sequences!
And varied, too! A foot chase that ends in a Slip n' Slide battle! Dueling snipers! Hand-to-hand combat culminating in...
A fantastic, though ludicrously implausible, finale to an effective brouhaha finds the bad guy on the business end of a non-pointy bamboo stick. Physiologically it makes no sense, but what a way to go!
Thank you, Sniper 3, for resurrecting my faith in low-budget action movies. Actually, I never had "faith;" nor so much as a "slight tolerance."
A 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is uneven; it looks great some times, but looks crappy other times. Dark scenes get too grainy, though some of the exterior shots of Vietnam are quite stunning. A nice, aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gives Sniper 3 some added pop; excellent use of the surrounds here. A few trailers are, sadly, it for extras.
Low-budget fun that, if found for a low price, could prove to be a sweet little addition to an action flick collection.
Free to go, believe it or not.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R