Sniper: Reloaded (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 27, 2011 by Dennis Amith
The fourth in the “Sniper” film series is actually a pretty good direct-to-video sequel. This time around, the film focuses on the latest Thomas Beckett’s son Sgt. Brandon Beckett and also features Billy Zane reprising his role as Richard Miller. A decent popcorn action film that will definitely entertain fans looking for sniper action and nothing to deep!
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TITLE: Sniper: Reloaded
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011
DURATION: 91 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (1:85:1), English and French 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Bloody Violence, Language and Brief Sexuality)
RELEASE DATE: April 26, 2011
Directed by Claudio Fah
Screenplay by John Fasano
Story by Ross Helford, John Fasano
Characters by Michael Frost Beckner, Crash Leyland
Produced by Claudio Fah, David Wicht
Co-Produced by Vlokkie Gordon, Jorg Westerkamp
Line Producer: Nina Heyns
Creative Executive: Peter Nelson
Music by Mark Sayfritz, Marcus Trumpp
Cinematography by Lorenzo Senatore
Edited by William Flicker
Casting by Christa Schamberger
Production Design by Shane Bunce
Costume Design by Maria Hofmeyer
Billy Zane as Richard Miller
Chad Michael Collins as Sgt. Brandon Beckett
Annabel Wright as Lt. Ellen Abramowitz
Richard Sammel as Col. Hans Jaeger
Kayla Privett as Kelli Van Brunt
Patrick Lyster as Martin Chandler
Ian Van Der Heyden as Patrick Mundy
Conrad Kemp as Dustin Nelson
Rob Fruithof as Jean Van Brunt
While working with the UN Forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Marine Sgt. Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins), son of renowned sniper Thomas Beckett, receives orders to rescue a European farmer trapped in the middle of hostile rebel territory. When he and his men arrive at the farm, a mysterious sniper ambushes them, wounding Beckett and killing everyone else. With the help of his father’s former protégé, sniper instructor Richard Miller (Billy Zane), Beckett must learn to think like a sniper to track down the assassin before the sniper returns to finish the job.
In 1993, the first “Sniper” action film was released in theaters. Starring Tom Berenger as the Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Beckett and Billy Zane as the civilian Richard Miller taking on a Panamanian Drug Lord, the film debuted at No. 2 in the box office and would spin off two more sequels, a TV film and a direct-to-video film featuring Berenger reprising his role as Thomas Beckett.
Eighteen years later, another film continuing the “Sniper” film series has been released but this time, Thomas Beckett is deceased and the film focuses on his son, Brandon Beckett (played by Chad Michael Collins), a marine.
The film begins with an inquiry on Brandon Beckett and a situation that took place while assisting the UN Forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beckett is facing a major charge which can lead to a court martial but first, he must discuss what happened in Congo which left several US Marines of his platoon dead.
Brandon talks about how he and his group were training Congo soldiers but then received direct orders by Col. Hans Jaeger (played by Richard Sammel) to rescue an important European farmer trapped in a hostile rebel territory. So, both US Marines and Congo soldiers sent by the UN go to get the farmer and at first, he is unwilling to leave the property that his father his family built and where his late wife is buried but Brandon and his commanding officer received a direct order that the farmer must leave his property.
So, as they are about to escort him in a UN vehicle, Brandon, a trained sniper, realizes they are about to be ambushed. The sniper kills many of the Congo soldiers and US Marines including the farmer. Now it is a matter of survival and when Brandon and his commanding officer try to escape, but while running, Brandon is shot by the sniper and accidentally falls into a pit. When his commanding officer goes to help him, he is killed by the sniper and the body falls on top of Brandon (also knocking him out unconscious). When the sniper comes to check on them, he believes that he has killed all the soldiers.
Hours later, Brandon wakes up and he is in the home of Martin Chandler (played by Patrick Lyster), a friend of the farmer who runs an orphanage and preventing the Congo soldiers from kidnapping them and making them soldiers. Martin tells Brandon that his wound is deep and he needs to get to the hospital but Brandon will not hear of it. He wants to go back to the farm and check on his men. Martin agrees to take back to the farm area.
When they return, the farm looks as if looters have come and destroyed the place. Meanwhile, a young teen, the daughter of the farmer holds a rifle on both men. When she realizes that they are not enemies, the daughter gives them information that the people who came and looted the place were not Congo soldiers or rebels but they were speaking in English.
When they return back to Martin’s home, they see the Congo soldiers kidnapping the children at the orphanage. Brandon still intends to complete his mission, even though the farmer he was sent to rescue, is dead, he will do what he can to bring his daughter to safety. Meanwhile, Martin will do what he can to save the children that were kidnapped.
Brandon and the young teen travel and try to find a UN base but when he arrives near another town, his wound gets worse and he collapses. Fortunately, he is rescued by the Congo soldiers and both he and the girl are brought to a UN base.
When Brandon wakes up, a man is sitting there with him. It’s Richard Miller (played by Billy Zane), a friend of Brandon’s father, a man who trained Richard to become a sniper and is there to check on Brandon and bring him back home. But Brandon will not hear anything of it and wants to reclaim the bodies of his men to bring that back home for a proper burial. But what good will he be if is weakened by his injuries?
Brandon goes to report to Col. Jaeger of what happened and he and Lt. Ellen Abramowitz (played by Annabel Wright) believe the person who ambushed Beckett and his platoon was a lone sniper and the bullet found in Brandon’s shoulder was an American bullet shot from a Russian sniper. This leads both individuals believing an American soldier may have gunned them down. Brandon wants to go back out there but unfortunately Jaeger confines him to the UN base.
While confined, Richard convinces Brandon that if he is going to take on a sniper, he has to be a sniper and thus, Brandon goes through training and makes a decision that in order to catch the sniper, he will have to disobey command.
It’s sniper vs. sniper in the fourth film of the “Sniper” series, “Sniper: Reloaded”.
“Sniper: Reloaded” is presented in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio 1:85:1). In some ways, the picture quality is quite surprising as it is a bit inconsistent. In the beginning of the film, we see a closeup of an ant on a sniper’s face. There is really good detail of this closeup. But then about forty minutes into the film, there are white speckles showing up throughout the film. There is also an instance of vertical lines showing up in the print. And this is a bit surprising because this is a 2011 film, not some film from the ’70s or ’80s. So, while you have these PQ issues, at times, since the film is shot outdoors, you have vibrant images which look very good.
Overall, the picture quality has its good moments and its bad moments. It is definitely inconsistent and for the most part of the film, the good news is that the PQ is mostly good at times but why the many white speckles and the vertical lines showing up in a new film, I have no idea.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
While “Sniper: Reloaded” has issues with its video, fortunately it’s English and French DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack fairs much better. As one would expect, the sniper sounds are excellent. There are a good number of scenes with gunfire and you can hear the bullets zinging, hitting metal and even at times a major boom. There is good directional audio used during these action sequences and a good use of the soundstage.
Dialogue is crisp and clear and for the most part, the shining feature of this Blu-ray release will be its lossless audio soundtrack.
“Sniper: Reloaded” comes with no special features but it is BD-Live enabled.
First and foremost, the Sniper films are popcorn action films at best. If you want an excellent and deep sniper film, there is the 2001 film “Enemy at the Gates” or the 1973 film “The Day of the Jackal”, but the Sniper films, these are films that require intense dramatic elements, it’s all about the action and for many fans, the original “Sniper” film was enjoyable and sure enough, two sequels were released.
But here we are with “Sniper: Reloaded”, the fourth film in the series and a film that will reboot the series featuring the young Sgt. Brandon Beckett (played by Chad Michael Collins), son of the late renown sniper Thomas Beckett (played by Tom Berenger).
And with direct-to-video sequels, while most are stinkers, earlier this year, I was surprised by “S.W.A.T. Firefight”, so I figured, “Sniper: Reloaded” could be good film as well and now after watching, I will say that I enjoyed “Sniper: Reloaded”.
Yes, it has a lot of sniper action and the addition of Billy Zane reprising his role as Richard Miller (from the original film) was a good transfer of the torch for the new character that will possibly highlight future “Sniper” films. It’s a straightforward movie that is easily accessible and for those who enjoyed the previous “Sniper” films or those who enjoy popcorn action films, “Sniper: Reloaded” worked out rather nicely. Action, violence and yes, you even have the addition of the banal one night stand love scene ala “Top Gun” style, in this case, a marine and his superior, thrown into the film as well.
As for the Blu-ray release, this is a barebones release. No special features whatsoever. The picture quality was a bit on the downside considering it was a film made in 2011, there should not be as many of those white speckles throughout the film. But the lossless audio soundtrack is solid!
Overall, “Sniper: Reloaded” will probably be the beginning of more direct-to-video sequels possibly featuring more of Sgt. Brandon Beckett and maybe even Richard Miller but if you have been a loyal fan of this film series, fortunately this fourth film does a good job of honoring the original film, especially remembering the character of Thomas Beckett and doing what it does best, being a popcorn action film that will entertain people from beginning to end.
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