23rd Jun2020

‘Sniper: Assassin’s End’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Chad Michael Collins, Tom Berenger, Sayaka Akimoto, Ryan Robbins, Lochlyn Munro, Emily Tennant, Michael Jonnson, Vincent Gale, Sasha Piltsin, Bethany Brown, Gerald Paetz | Written by Oliver Thompson | Directed by Kaare Andrews

The EIGHTH(!) installment of the Sniper film series, Sniper: Assassin’s End is a sequel to 2017’s Sniper: Ultimate Kill and sees Special Ops Sniper Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) is set up as the primary suspect for the murder of a foreign dignitary on the eve of signing a high-profile trade agreement with the United States. Narrowly escaping death, Beckett realizes that there may be a dark operative working within the government and partners with the only person whom he can trust, his father legendary Sniper Sgt. Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger). Both Becketts are on the run from the CIA, Russian Mercenaries, and a Yakuza-trained assassin with sniper skills that rival both legendary sharp shooters.

Who would have thought that some 27 years after the original Sniper was released we’d STILL be talking about the Tom Berenger-starring franchise. But we are and surely this has to be some sort of record for a DTV franchise… The first DTV sequel came in 2002 and now it’s 18 year and six further films later. Are there any other action franchises that have lasted this long and had so many entries? OK, so maybe the Scorpion King series has lasted as long (in terms of time, not number of movies) but it’s safe to say that this franchise is the only one to have kept up such consistency. Which is even more surprising when you consider the sheer amount of different talent behind the scenes.

Speaking of which, Sniper: Assassin’s End is helmed by Kaare Andrews, comic book artist turned director who helmed the fantastic Altitude in 2010 and followed that up with Cabin Fever 3 in 2014 (with a segment of horror anthology The ABCs of Death in between) Despite my personal enjoyment of Cabin Fever 3, aka Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, it seems a lot of genre fans weren’t. Fans of the film I mean. And so Andrews has spent the past few years directing various episodes of genre TV instead of directing further feature films. Thankfully that experience, on shows like Aftermath and Van Helsing, have clearly influenced Andrews’ work here. He stages action with aplomb, really capturing a grittiness and realness in this franchise entry; and he clearly knows how to make the most of time and budget.

Yes, for all the LACK of funds, Sniper: Assassin’s End looks superb. Probably becasue Andrews brings some comic influences – in terms of visuals – into this film. In fact there are a number of scenes that look like they could have ripped straight from a comic book. Especially those featuring the franchises latest new character, the ominously monikered Lady Death (Sayaka Akimoto), who takes the “evil sniper” reigns from Billy Zane and runs with it – presenting an almost T1000 ruthless killing machine-like quality to her performance. You REALLY feel like she can be a danger to our hero Brandon Beckett, even though he’s managed to live through a myriad of previous sniper movies!

Also new to the franchise in this film is Agent Zeke ‘Zero’ Rosenberg, played by Canadian actor Ryan Robbins, who gets to do all the detective legwork in Sniper: Assassin’s End in what is essentially a co-lead role, leaving star Chad Michael Collins’s Brendan Beckett to get to grips with all the action, including a remarkable fight with the aforementioned Sayaka Akimoto – who displays some tremendous martial arts skills, with some of the best weapon work in an American movie I’ve seen in looong time.

With some cute nods and easter eggs to previous Sniper films that will please long-term franchise fans, yet with a story that doesn’t rely on knowledge of the past films to enjoy it, Sniper: Assassin’s End is yet another first-rate entry into the series… Long may it continue; and give us a Lady Death/Agent Zero spinoff while you’re at it too Sony.

Sniper: Assassin’s End is available to download and keep now, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.


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