(Luis Llosa, USA, 1993)


Sniper, a war movie filmed in the darkest jungles of Far North Queensland, is mild action fare. Although clearly arriving in the wake of some successful Vietnam movies – it boasts Tom Berenger from Platoon (1986) in the lead role – I have rarely seen a plot with less political specificity.

Who this sniper stalks in Panama and even why he does it are rendered immaterial; all that matters to director Luis Llosa is the existential solitude of the trained killer in the jungle, the telescopic view through the gun sight, and the gory detail of bullets entering and exiting human flesh in slow motion.

Given the unusual, minimal simplicity of its premise, Sniper had the potential to join the company of fine films that explore the twilight poetry of the lone, morally ambiguous, male professional, like Le Samouraï (1967) or Light Sleeper (1992).

Unfortunately, much of the running time is expended portraying an extremely conventional antagonistic relation between Berenger and his wet-behind-the-ears sidekick Miller (Billy Zane, looking very uncomfortable).

© Adrian Martin September 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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