A Sniper’s War presents the story of Deki, a Serbian who enlists in the Russian backed “Ukrainian Separatist” movement that sprung up in the district between Ukraine proper and Russia proper during the big NATO-Russia standoff. He wanted to show his gratitude to Russia by shooting the NATO types that ruined the best country on earth – his beloved Albania. It’s a message film with an odd mix of messages. Part pro-Russia, part pro-Communist, and part pro-Orthodox Church.
Military types would know better than me about this stuff, but it purports to be a glimpse into the ways that low-heat wars are fought these days. Deki carpools to the front line in the morning to take up his position as a forward element in support of the other Separatist troops. It’s a war film that features the kind of camaraderie you’d expect and lacks all of the usual globohomo posturing and clumsy anti-Christian messaging.
The heart of the film is an interesting character study of a man who leaves his family and country to strike a blow against a larger foe. The faux-documentary style adds a level of intensity to the story that helps mitigate the production’s relatively low budget. In an interesting note, we never actually see Deki’s nemesis – we only read words he posts on social media to taunt Deki. Which meets my level of expectation for modern warfare and makes him even more ominous than if we knew that he’s only evil because his Dad abused him as a kid.
The downside of the faux-documentary style comes in the form of the technical gaffes. I’m no soldier, but even I know snipers don’t stick the barrel of their rifle six inches outside of the window to look for a shot…in the middle of a sniper duel. Come on, guys, even Nolan’s Joker knew that. To compound the error, Deki returns to the blind where he barely survived a hit by a dum-dum bullet to continue the duel from the same spot where he was shot. And earlier in the film Deki calls out exactly that kind of thing as a rookie mistake. It breaks the tension considerably when the filmmakers break their own rules like that.
In the end, though, it isn’t the setting that matters, it’s the characters. And even though Deki is a filthy commie, he makes for a fine protagonist. It’s not a great film by any stretch, but it’s a damn sight more interesting than most of the fare Hollywood squats out these days.
It’s also free on Amazon Prime at the moment.
On a related note, I won’t be watching the end of the Dirk Gently show after all. It left free viewing, and I’m not about to pay to directly anything from BBC America. I’m paying for free shipping. A free peek at Dirk Gently might be a nice bonus, but it’s not something I’d use money for that could be better spent buying literally anything.
Edit: Never mind. I’m an idiot.