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Film / Sniper

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Sniper is a movie franchise that began as a 1993 action thriller directed by Luis Llosa and starring Tom Berenger as Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Beckett, a seasoned sniper whose missions have made him spent more time in the jungle than just about everyone else in his field. CIA agent Richard Miller (Billy Zane) is assigned to take out a Panamian insurgent leader with Beckett's aid, but his inexperience causes friction with Beckett, while they're also being pursued by another sniper who killed Beckett's previous partner.

It was followed by many direct-to-DVD sequels. As of the fourth movie, Thomas Beckett's son Brandon (played by Chad Michael Collins) has taken over as the main character of the series, although Thomas himself continues to appear in subsequent films in a supporting role (except for Reloaded, Ghost Shooter, and Rogue Mission). The full franchise consists of the following:

  1. Sniper (1993)
  2. Sniper 2 (2002)
  3. Sniper 3 (2004)
  4. Sniper: Reloaded (2011)
  5. Sniper: Legacy (2014)
  6. Sniper: Ghost Shooter (2016)
  7. Sniper: Ultimate Kill (2017)
  8. Sniper: Assassin's End (2020)
  9. Sniper: Rogue Mission (2022)
  10. Sniper: G.R.I.T. (2023)

No relation to The Sniper, a 1952 Film Noir.

This film provides examples of:

  • Animated Credits Opening: Rogue Mission has this for its opening credits.
  • Artistic License Military:
    • None of the scope reticles resemble anything ever attached to the M40, SR 9 TC, or Dragunov-style rifles.
    • The Marines wear ERDL Brown-dominant woodland, instead of the then-common M81 Woodland Battle Dress Uniform. (introduced almost 12 years prior to filming, though it's possible that Beckett just kept a pair in serviceable condition, given his likely two decades or more of service)
    • Beckett wears a chest patch, when traditionally Marines don't wear unit patches.
    • Possibly the most egregious violation, though, is the continual calling of Master Gunnery Sergeant Beckett as "gunny," which is traditionally a term for a Gunnery Sergeant (E7) rather than the much more senior Master Gunnery Sergeant (E9) which is traditionally referred to in slang by those friendly with or close in rank to the Master Gunnery Sergeant as "master guns," if referred to in slang at all. This is finally corrected in the ending of Assassin's End when Brandon calls his dad "guns."
    • Beckett enters the recreation room on base with his cover (hat) on. This is a big no-no for any Marine.
    • Beckett wears his insignia on his cover, which is generally an Army practice, rather than a Marine one. Realistically, in-garrison he would wear his insignia on his BDU shirt lapels, and then in a tactical environment would remove them so as not to attract sniper fire for being a senior Non-Commissioned Officer. The fact that he wears any insignia at all is unrealistic, as oftentimes those tasked with special missions will "sterilize" their uniforms to remove any indication of military affiliation.
  • Badass Family: The Becketts, consisting of a father and son who are both snipers.
  • Boxed Crook: At the end of Assassin's End, Lady Death is recruited by Agent Zero to work for the CIA in exchange for avoiding extradition to Japan for all the murders she's committed.
  • Call-Back: Brandon's conversations with Miller or his father will occasionally allude to events that occur in the first film. For example, Brandon learns of Miller's "one shot two kills" exploits during Reloaded.
  • Childhood Memory Demolition Team: At one point, the title character is told that the old fishing hole in his hometown is now a parking lot.
  • Cold Sniper: Thomas Beckett is the stoic loner type. He's shunned on the base he's stationed at both for being a sniper among regular Marines, and for being rather notorious for losing partners in the field.
  • Damsel in Distress: In G.R.I.T., Lady Death is kidnapped by the terrorists, so now Brandon must not only defeat the terrorists but rescue Lady Death as well.
  • Dark Action Girl: Yuki Mifune alias "Lady Death" in Assassin's End, played by former AKB48 idol Sayaka Akimoto.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Miller is unable to take a shot when his helicopter is attacked by Panamanian rebels, but the dying door gunner accidentally shoots a rebel from an incredible distance. Miller is credited for the kill and gains an undeserved reputation as an expert marksman. In fact he's very much out of his element in the Panamanian jungle because he only has experience with urban SWAT.
  • Fingore: Beckett loses his trigger finger to Razor Floss.
  • Handicapped Badass: Beckett needs some time to adjust to pull his gun's trigger with his middle finger at the climax of the first film, but once he does he goes on to continue to perform laser-straight sniper shots for the rest of the series.
  • Just Train Wrong: The rail insertion scene is shot in northern Queensland, although set in Central America. You can't hide this when your biggest clue is a train which still has Queensland Government Railways markings, when QGR has always been traditionally a Cape gauge (3'6") system, by sticking up plaques proclaiming it as the property of the Panama Railroad, which was, at time of filming, built to Old Russian (5') gauge, and therefore unlikely to have bought used QGR vehicles to re-gauge.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite featuring Human Traffickers as the main antagonists, Rogue Mission is definitely this compared to the other movies, going for a more Guy Ritchie feel.
  • Living Legend: Beckett and every single major villain that appears in the series, most of the latter having a Red Baron nickname.
  • Nave Newcomer: Miller. Even though he's an experienced marksman he has never killed anyone and has no experience in the jungle. Beckett has to explain a lot of things to him, and by extension to the audience. Brandon also goes through this in Reloaded, having an initial disdain for the craft of sniping and undergoes Character Development to become a proficient sniper
  • One-Hit Polykill: Miller does this after Beckett, while being tortured, sees him looking through his scope and mouths to him to take "One shot, two kills." Beckett survives. By Reloaded, Miller successfully pulls this off with a .50 caliber sniper rifle, with Beckett's son Brandon aware of this feat.
  • Orifice Invasion: Beckett warns his partner not to urinate as they are wading through a waist-deep river, because small organisms will enter his urethra and dig in with spikes.
  • Scope Snipe:
    • In the original movie, the protagonist is being stalked through the Panamanian jungle by a former student, now working for the rebels. After leaving his sleeping partner as bait, he puts a bullet through his opponent's Draganov rifle scope.
    • It happens in each of the sequels as well, possibly making the titular sniper the only marksman in reality or fiction with three scope snipes. This is especially ridiculous in the third movie, where he didn't have time to do a carefully aimed shot against the sniper attacking him while he tried to snipe someone else.
  • Sniper Duel: Happens at least once in each of the three movies. Assassin's End takes it up to eleven with a three-man duel with both Thomas and Brandon vs. Lady Death.
  • Spin Off Spring: Every movie set after Sniper 3 focuses on Brandon Beckett's adventures.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Beckett tells Miller that he's going to retire from the Marine Corps and return home, then details all the things he's going to do once he gets there only to find out from Miller that most of the places he talks about don't exist any more.
  • The Bus Came Back: After his debut in the first movie, Richard Miller's next outing in the series wouldn't be until the fourth movie 18 years later.
    • After Ghost Shooter, the Colonel is absent from both Ultimate Kill and Assassin's End until he returns in the flesh in Rogue Mission.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After spending much of the film as a Fake Ultimate Hero, Miller eventually rises to the occasion near the end when he goes back to save Beckett. Brandon earns his badass journey in Reloaded having started out as a rookie infantry Marine learning how to embrace being a sniper.
  • Torture Technician: "El Cirujano" (The Surgeon), a secondary target on Beckett and Miller's mission, is an ex-CIA spook who tortures prisoners for the Panamian insurgents. After Beckett is captured later in the film, the Surgeon applies his skills on his new captive.
  • Tragic Dream: Beckett has a dream of retiring from the Marine Corps and returning to his hometown and settling down to a quiet life where he can spend his days fishing in his favorite lake. When he tells his new partner about this, he is informed that the partner knows the area and it has seen major development in the years since Beckett left and is no longer an idyllic small town. Most poignantly the lake has been filled in and is now a parking lot. Beckett does not take this revelation well and it is one of the factors that leads to the two men turning on each other during a mission.