A Review of ‘The Sniper’: Bringing some heart to a gunfight

An ex-military woman appears to be potentially dangerous on returning to civilian life.

Jun 13, 2024 - 14:05
A Review of ‘The Sniper’: Bringing some heart to a gunfight

'The Sniper’: Bringing some heart to a gunfight

Cast: Johanna Watts, Eli Jane, Isabella Philips, Ezra Eells

Critic’s Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

Director: Dastan Khalili

Duration: 20 minutes

Genre: Drama

Language: English

Release: 2024

What’s it about?

An ex-military woman appears to be potentially dangerous on returning to civilian life.

Review: 

A former lady soldier and prolific markswoman returns to an empty home with mainly her rifle for company. Is the weapon a separate entity or an extension of her acquired persona? Years of training and combat has made Reagan (Johanna Watts) an expert in her field. Now, back in an unfamiliar and confusing civilian setting, she feels redundant. Is this outstanding shooter incapable of feeling “ordinary” again? That is essentially the premise of this moderately intriguing and mildly moving Short film. 

Mounting and discharging her fire-arm was so much a matter of routine, that Reagan has forgotten what it was like to be a serene human being. Indeed, she can’t seem to keep her weapon at “arm’s” length. Can she change from the dehumanised killing machine that her army experience had turned her into? The war that she was coerced to wage on the battle field has now shifted to her mind, and soul. Reagan urgently needs fresh targets at which to discharge her firearm and relive the sense of accomplishment that it brings.

The film opens with Reagan craning her gun, with cold precision, out of her apartment window while she observes people through her aimer. She has apparently found a potential target in a wayward couple (Isabella Philips and Ezra Eells). But does she have the right motive to make the duo her next victims? And are they deserving of the bloody, fatal punishment of a bullet through their heads? As Reagan grapples with these thoughts and her index finger quivers from indecision, humanity intervenes in the form of a mysterious woman (Eli Jane).

Will this visitor help the distraught Reagan make the evolutionary leap from dehumanisation to re-humanisation? Or are they both immersed in a losing battle? While the narrative may suffer from being a little too talky, the dialogue is mostly compelling enough to keep the audience engaged while they try to determine whether the denouement will splatter the screen with blood. Or is the power of human connection and love ample enough to deter carnage? 

Seasoned director Dastan Khalili definitely has something valid to say about the discharged soldier’s predicament at attempting to expunge the demons acquired during active service. Khalili also asks whether affection and empathy is enough to fill the void that amoral warfare has left the psyche with. Watts delivers a commendable performance as the tormented and conflicted protagonist while Jane supplies adequate support, however, screen-writer Chris Calzia could have infused the story with more drama and revelation. Still, The Sniper is sure to deliver the audience with an emotional jolt while aiming straight for the heart. 

Ronak Kotecha Senior Journalist and seasoned content creator with 18-years-experience at channels like Times Now, NewsX, Zoom and Radio City. Now, Rotten Tomatoes accredited global critic for the Times of India and BBC India Correspondent in Dubai. Talk show host at Talk100.3, tune in weekdays at 11 am on talk1003.ae