02nd Oct2014

‘Sniper: Legacy’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Tom Berenger, Chad Michael Collins, Vasil Enev, Dennis Haysbert, Danko Jordanov, Mercedes Masohn | Written by Don Michael Paul, John Fasano | Directed by Don Michael Paul

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Shocking as it may seem given the amount of horror flicks I review here on Nerdly, I’m not just a horror fan. My movie-loving passion is in fact split between three genres: horror, teen comedies and action movies. As much as I can appreciate low-budget horror flicks I can also appreciate low-budget action movies – which, at least from major studios, are few and far between these days. Which is one of the reasons I was excited to check out Sniper: Legacy.

The other reason? Well, as a teenager I used to love IMPACT Magazine. It really was my film bible, I’d religiously pick up each and every issue from the newsagents near where I used to catch the bus to college; in fact for seven years – from 1993 – I bought an issue every month without fail. Why am I telling you this? Well it was thanks to the now-defunct magazine that I first discovered the original Sniper movie. As a huge fan of Major League it was, at the time, a surprise to see Tom Berenger in an action film (admittedly my film knowledge wasn’t as “well-rounded” then as it is now) and a damn good one at that.

What’s even more surprising is that now, some twenty one years later, I’m sitting down to write a review of Sniper: Legacy, the fifth film in the Sniper franchise; and one that sees original star Tom Berenger return to the series.

Don Michael Paul, director of one of the best Steven Seagal movies made post Under Siege 2, 2002′s prison-set flick Half Past Dead, helms the second of two sequels to bare his name to be released this month – the other being Jarhead 2 - from a script by the recently-deceased John Fasano (Rock n Roll Nightmare, Black Roses).

This time round a rogue gunman is assassinating high-ranking military officers one by one. When Gunnery Sgt. Brandon Beckett (Collins, reprising his role from the previous film) is informed his father, legendary shooter Thomas Beckett (Berenger) has been killed, Brandon springs into action to take out the perpetrator. But when his father rescues him from an ambush, Brandon realizes he’s a pawn being played by his superiors to draw out the killer. It’s up to the two men, bound by blood, to bring an end to the carnage.

Thankfully, whilst Paul doesn’t have a lot of action movie directorial experience, screenwriter Fasano knows action inside out, having penned scripts for a wide variety of action films, films such as Another 48 Hours, Universal Soldier: The Return and 2011′s Sniper: Reloaded – the movie prior to this franchise entry and only film in the series NOT to feature Tom Berenger in some way. Not that Berenger features heavily in this film mind you – his role is little more than an extended cameo, he doesn’t even appear in the film until 55 minutes in!

Fasano’s script really plays up the sniper aspect of the franchise, with a myriad of sniper vs. sniper set pieces rather than the all out action seen in some of the other entries in the series. In all honesty, there’s actually less action in this installment than previous, as Fasano’s script plays up the conspiracy and international intrigue angle of a rogue sniper – but that’s not a bad thing.  Admittedly the focusing on character and character interaction does slow the pace of Sniper: Legacy down somewhat but that can be forgiven, given that this is a story about father and son coming together under a stressful situation, whilst trying to mend their relationship.

On the plus side, by adding more story to the action there’s more investment in the characters and their situations, which then fuels greater interest in the action when it does occur. This is less of a mindless action-filled sniper film and more of an international thriller along the lines of the Bourne movies – it’s a real return to the roots of the franchise. And a welcome one at that.

Sniper: Legacy is out now on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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