Bullet Points: Sniper: Special Ops
The cover of Sniper: Special Ops could cause any old school action fan to do a double take. Seagal and Van Damme in the same movie?!?! That would be unheard of, especially after all the trash Seagal talked about JCVD back in the day when both men were climbing the box office charts. But upon further inspection, you would realize that Van Damme is spelled Van Dam as in professional wrestler turned actor, Rob Van Dam. And while that combination is not nearly as awesome as Steven Seagal/Jean-Claude Van Damme would be, Seagal and RVD was an interesting pairing none the less.
The cover of Sniper: Special Ops would also make you believe that either Steven Seagal or Rob Van Dam was the hero of the film… that is not true. That honor goes to veteran actor (and an actual U.S. Army Ranger at one point) Tim Abell. Abell has starred in a bevy of direct to video actioners over the years like Strategic Command with Michael Dudikoff, The Base with Mark Dacascos and Mercenaries with Cynthia Rothrock. But this was my first experience seeing Abell, front and center, as the main protagonist.
- The Mission: Our movie begins with Sgt. Vic Mosby leading his team on an extraction mission to rescue a congressman who has been captured by the Taliban and being held in an Afghan village. Things don’t go exactly as planned once the team secures Congressman Cooper. There is no air support available for their evacuation, so their only option is a ground evac. This leads to a fire fight with the hostiles as they are trying to leave the village. Lives are lost and Mosby is forced to leave two of his men behind including expert sniper Sgt. Jake Chandler (Steven Seagal), who was separated from the team when he was assisting another member of the team who was shot in the back.
- Let’s Get Jakey: Once the team returns to base and get Congressman Cooper to safety, Mosby wants to return to the village to bring his boys back, but that request is shot down by Mosby’s superior, Lt. Col. Jackson (played by Dale Dye, who you may remember as Captain Garza in the Under Siege movies). However Mosby and his team are sent to retrieve a broken down supply truck in the middle of the Afghan desert. Mosby and the team eventually parlay this objective into a rescue mission for Sgt. Jake Chandler.
- Elder Statesman: While he is prominently featured on the cover of Sniper: Special Ops, Steven Seagal’s actual screen time and dialogue is limited in the film, with Seagal taking on a supporting role much like Jean-Claude Van Damme did in Dragon Eyes or Michael Dudikoff did in Navy SEALS vs. Zombies. But don’t worry Seagal fans, while you aren’t going to get Marked for Death Seagal, he is still a bonafide badass and you will get to see him take out quite a few terrorists with his sniper rifle.
- Most Improved: I have to hand it to Rob Van Dam, his acting has improved greatly since his performance in Wrong Side of Town. I would chalk it up to experience and his opportunity to work with seasoned actors like Tim Abell. Van Dam plays Vasquez, Sgt. Mosby’s right hand man in Sniper: Special Ops. And I love that he managed to work in his patented RVD pose at the end of the film.
Sniper: Special Ops was a little heavier on the drama than I expected going in, but the performances were solid, with Abell really carrying the film, and the military action is injected through out so the movie moves along at a good pace. I thought the film’s finale was really well done and ended the movie on a high note (and that was not a Rob Van Dam pot smoking reference).
Now for a few more shots courtesy of these bonus Sniper: Special Ops Bullet Points…
- Sausage Fest: Other than Charlene Amoia, who plays Janet Conrad (a NATO correspondent that stows away on Mosby’s mission to retrieve the supply truck and ends up becoming an unofficial, yet invaluable member of the team) and an uncredited actress who plays the daughter in law of the Taliban leader, this movie is a total sausage fest.
- Directed by: The movie is directed by Fred Olen Ray, some of his other films include Turbulent Skies (starring Casper Van Dien), Mach 2 (starring Brian Bosworth) and Alienator (starring Jan-Michael Vincent).
- Who voted for this guy?: Easily the most annoying character in this movie was Congressman Cooper and he’s not even in the movie that long.
- The Silver Lining: Sgt. Jake Chandler may have the reputation of being an expert marksman, but who knew he had such a wonderful bedside manner. During a conversation with Rich (the solider who was shot in the back) where Rich confides in him that he got a “Dear John” letter from his girl back home, Chandler reminds Rich that he’ll be getting a Silver Star and that with a Silver Star he can get all the dates he wants.