Top critical review
Lamentable "Sniper" Thriller: See "Phone Booth" Instead
on July 13, 2004
Linda Fiorentino, Wesley Snipes and Oliver Platt (in that order) star in this awfully tedious thriller with a questionable political message. Let's not talk about the issues like pro- or anti-gun control for now, because the film (which is directed by the same person who did "Children of the Corn 666" -- quite a damning title) has no thrills or suspence. And at the time of writing this, we have not seen Ms. Fiorentino for two years -- hope it has not killed her career.
The story is marginally interesting; I say marginally, for we later are to see much better "Phone Booth." Like Colin Farrell film, the protagonist Liberty Wallace (Linda Fiorentino) finds herself in a big trouble. Someone named 'Joe' (Snipes) aims a rifle at her while she is chained to a hotdog stand where an explosive device is set. And Liverty is a wife of a rich gun manufacturor (Oliver Platt), and Joe claims he lost his daughter because of the gun her company made.
The story, which starts promisingly, suddenly loses steam in the first fifteen minutes. And then, it's all about the confusing situations and paper-thin characters whom we just don't care. In terms of thriller, first of all, it is a total failure. See, if the guy Joe is really a good marksman as the film shows, why does he need a bomb in the first place? Unaccountably, the film introduces another 'bomb' rigged to the body of a poor fellow (who is supposedly having an affair with Liberty) which only detracts the tension of the main story.
The film rasies interesting questions such as, Is Liberty (or her husband) really responsible for the death of the people killed by guns? The director clearly leans on the left side, which in itself is no problem. But as the character of Joe is so superficial and unconvincing that his logics start to look like that of a monster. He never tells us what happened to the daughter, nor he blames the culprit while he could kill innocent people. There is little sign of intelligence behind his characterization, which is an insult to the victims or survivors of the real murder cases.
Of course, the film could be an example of escapism, (like "Phone Booth" again), but the film suffers at that point from the bad acting and awful dialogues with cluttered pace. Wooden performance from the two leads are deplorable, and as to Ms. Fiorentino, we sincerely miss her in "MIB."
Need a thriller with snipers? Again I say, see "Phone Booth" instead. And its sniper Kiefer Sutherland is ten times more authentic than Snipes, though -- or perhaps because -- Kiefer scarcely shows his face.