By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: Sniper: Assassin’s End

STARRING: Chad Michael Collins, Ryan Robbins, Locklyn Munro, Sayaka Akimoto, Ryan Robbins, and Tom Berenger

DIRECTED BY: Kaare Andrews

“Special Ops sniper Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare) 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 (Golden Globe®-winner Tom Berenger). Both Becketts are on the run from the CIA, Russian mercenaries and Lady Death, a Yakuza-trained assassin (Japanese actress and singer Sayaka Akimoto in her Hollywood film debut) with sniper skills that rival both legendary sharpshooters.”

THE REVIEW: It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 17 years since Tom Berenger first locked and loaded with his rifle in the first Sniper film and here we are all these years later and now there are 8, count them 8, entries in the historic franchise that just keeps getting better and better.

Berenger and Billy Zane were spot on in that first film and while Berenger would go on to headline two more sequels it wasn’t until 2011’s Sniper: Reloaded that the franchise saw new life injected into it with then unknown actor Chad Michael Collins stepping in and taking the reigns.

Collins has now starred in five installments of the high-octane franchise and with Berenger and Zane making appearances along the way, fans have been treated to one pulsating entry after another. Collins has really owned it since premiering in Reloaded and his character of Special Forces Sniper Brandon Beckett has become one of the most prolific action mainstays for the last decade.

With that we have the eighth and latest adventure titled Sniper: Assassin’s End and this time Collins reunites with his onscreen father Tom Berenger for the third time in the series and this one is even better as it delves a little deeper into their relationship and we really get some nice sequences between the two amidst the impending mayhem that these films are known for.

In terms of plot, this newest installment doesn’t offer anything that we haven’t already seen and it actually takes a page out of Angel Has Fallen and Taken 3 as just like Mike Banning and Bryan Mills in those films, Collins’ Beckett is framed for the murder of someone very important and he is forced to go on the run as a dedicated Federal agent played by Lochlyn Munro is hot on his trail and is looking to bring him in for the crime.

Of course, Beckett is innocent but unfortunately for him, he has been set up by a lethal Japanese assassin who has taken a shot that everyone thinks only Beckett can make. It truly isn’t worth it to be the best at something sometimes. It also sucks that Russian Mercs are after him as well. When it rains, it pours people.

Also on the case is a mysterious operative named Zero played wonderfully by Ryan Robbins who knows that there is more to the story then meets the eye and he makes it his sole mission to uncover the truth.

Assassin’s End owns a running time of just about 94 minutes and except for a little lull in the middle, it moves at a brisk pace and turns into an outright chase movie. Fans are treated to a phenomenal action sequence at the beginning where a convey that is transferring a confined Beckett is ambushed by mercenaries and the scene culminates in a stunning take down as Beckett takes out two assailants with two guns blazing. The scene is punctuated with a John Woo-esque slo-mo shot that hard core fans should get right away. Collins nails the scene perfectly.

The highlight of the film is an epic beatdown in the woods as Beckett is confronted by Lady Death, the Japanese assassin played by Sayaka Akimoto and the sequence is expertly choreographed with a fresh Hong Kong action flair to it that is new to the franchise. It’s a great back and forth matchup that invokes some adrenaline into the proceedings and it really is one of the best scenes in any of the films to date.

What can you say about the OG sniper Thomas Beckett played spot on once again by Tom Berenger. He is one of the true character actors of our time that enhances any film that he is in and it’s always welcoming to see the senior Beckett report for duty one more time. Like I said earlier, there are some really quiet moments between father and son that serve up a great contrast to all the carnage that came before and comes after and Berenger is solid in his appearance.

The addition of both Robbins as Zero and Akimoto as Lady Death is a welcome one and I would love to see them team up with Beckett for future installments along with maybe one more round of Billy Zane. Robbins does a great job in filling the void and his character is a no nonsense type of person who would gel well with Beckett in the future.

First time franchise director Kaare Andrews delivers one of the sleekest entries to date and while known for being a great comic book artist, Andrews definitely has an eye for action and making it look clean and inviting on screen.

All in all, Sniper: Assassin’s End may borrow from other plots but it’s Collins, Berenger and company that bring it home in the end. This newest entry proves that there is still a lot of gas left in the tank and while not as bombastic as other entries, it still delivers the action goods and enough good sniper kills to satisfy fans. After all, it is called Sniper so you would expect multiple shots taken from long distances.

With eight films in the can, this reviewer is looking for more rounds to be spent with this franchise as it always delivers and satisfies on all fronts.

VERDICT: 4 Out Of 5 STARS

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!

Sniper: Assassin’s End is Now Available on Blu-Ray & DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment!

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