Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 27, 2022)
As long as direct to video movies exist, we will apparently get infinite entries in low-budget action franchises. Thus we find ourselves with 2022’s Sniper: Rogue Mission, the ninth (!) in a series that began back in 1993.
Skilled sniper Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) makes a career shift. This leads him to become a rookie agent at the CIA.
Matters take a turn when Brandon learns that federal operative Harvey Cusamano (Paul Essiembre) participates in a human trafficking organization. Faced with obstacles in an official capacity, Brandon “goes rogue” along with Homeland Security Agent Zeke “Zero” Rosenberg (Ryan Robbins) and master assassin “Lady Death” (Sayaka Akimoto) to stop this menace.
The Sniper series started in 1993 with Tom Berenger in the lead as skilled shooter Master Gunnery Sergeant Tom Beckett. Of the first eight films, Berenger reprised his role in five of them and was at least alluded to in the others.
Collins came on board as Brandon Beckett – Tom Beckett’s son - with the fourth flick, 2011’s Reloaded. He reprised the part in every movie after that, but Mission comes with no reference whatsoever to his dad.
Which seems fine, as Mission finds its own way. I suspect it deviates from its eight predecessors via its tone.
It’s probably unfair of me to make judgments about the franchise as a whole since I only saw 2020’s Assassin’s End. However, it left me no room to believe the prior Sniper movies offered anything other than fairly simple, lackluster thrillers.
I certainly saw none of the sass and attitude Mission provides in End. As mentioned, it’s possible one or more of the prior six Sniper flicks launched into territory as atypical for the genre, but I doubt it.
While I wouldn’t call Mission a comedy, it veers much farther into that territory than the average violent thriller. Indeed, it comes across as parody much of the time, as it pokes fun at aspects of the genre.
Again, I don’t think Mission goes far enough into that realm to truly fit the definition of a spoof. Nonetheless, we get something much looser and more glib than the dry, dull action flick I expected.
Does any of this make Mission a genuinely good movie? No, and it can come across as cut-rate Tarantino at times.
Though the movie aspires to wit and spark, it doesn’t quite get there on a consistent basis. Some of the gags work but others fall with a thud, and the entire enterprise can feel too self-conscious in terms of its desire to subvert expectations.
The subject matter also feels like an odd match for the jokey tone. The serious nature of the plot’s background doesn’t make much sense when combined with the glib vibe.
That said, I feel delighted to find something that differs from the usual flat, cookie-cutter thriller. Quirky and generally entertaining, Mission fares much better than the average direct to video effort.
Footnote: a brief comedic tag appears after the end credits.