Sniper: Reloaded – when his team are ambushed by a single shooter, a marine goes behind enemy lines to draw the sniper out and avenge his fallen comrades. For a b-movie, the action in this is surprisingly strong and intense; unfortunately the filler between these big set-pieces is fairly standard. Unbeknownst to me, this is the 4th film in the series, but you don’t have to have seen the rest to understand this; although they may explain the unprecedented overuse of ‘shoulder touching to convey trust’ symbolism. Most importantly, for a film about snipers, pretty much all of the famous / trick shots are in there: kill through a wall, one shot – two kills, thread the needle through another sniper scope. It’s also aided by some stunning wildlife & nature shots and a gratuitously bad all-holds-barred sex scene. For a no name cast (other than Billy Zane, who kinda feels at home here) and no budget, Sniper: Reloaded shouldn’t be nearly as good as it is, but the action, cinematography and setting make up for shortcomings in the script and story departments.
Hangover Part III (aka The Hangover 3): The wolfpack are reunited (again), and end up going on a road trip that takes a wrong turn (again). For what started out as a really good original film, this series has taken a rapid nosedive into sub-mediocrity. It doesn’t feel like a ‘Hangover’ movie: there’s no blackout, no fun, no shocks, no unorthodox situations, no Mike Tyson – the only attempt to tie it in is some forced nostalgia; inserting shots from previous films. The cast are OK, but all look like they’d all rather be elsewhere – and the rent-a-John–Goodman cameo is such uninspired casting. I don’t understand how someone managed to spend $103M on a film with no real stunts, or heavy CGI. The first film worked because it was equally shocking and funny, the second film was OK because it was mostly shocking; this one feels empty in both tanks – timid story, and simply not funny enough to be a comedy. Ken Jong does something ridiculous; Zach Galifianakis says something silly/inappropriate; Ed Helms screams in bemusement; and Bradley Cooper stands around looking broody – repeat x100. Sadly, this feels more like a bunch of contractual obligations than a film.