Sniper is an expertly directed, yet ultimately unsatisfying psychological thriller. Luis Llosa’s first-rate action direction is undermined by underdeveloped characters and pedestrian dialogue.
Tom Berenger essays a Marine sniper, oddly named Thomas Beckett, on assignment in Panama. Pic quickly establishes sniping as a lonely profession shunned even by other gung-ho Marines. On his latest assignment he’s accompanied by an ambitious young Washington bureaucrat, Richard Miller (Billy Zane), who is so green he doesn’t really need camouflage.
The hostile interplay between the emotionally detached veteran and the cocky youngster is strictly textbook, as is their eventual male bonding. This would be okay if they weren’t virtually the only characters in the film.
Action scenes – and there are a good number of them – range from good to edge-of-your-seat. Audiences will see the finale coming from a mile away, but the pace only flags when the characters stop to make sense of their actions.
The tropical forests of Queensland, Australia, stood in for Panama.