Sharpshooter and the falsely moral protaganist

Fairly generic as action-thrillers go, Sharpshooter concerns a sniper played by James Remar who spends his days murdering people for the US government. As the film begins he's off on his last mission, rescuing some kind of white man from a group of ethnically generic terrorists.

Remar is anxious to get out of the governmental murder game. Not because he has some kind of a moral objection to it, but simply because killing people for the government is dangerous work, and he'll eventually be the one who winds up dead. All of this is expressed through omnipresent narration, which is in no way clunky or obvious.

From there the film moves along a completely predictable path, with Remar's old buddy Mario Van Peebles showing up to ask him to go along on one last job: Murdering an arms dealer. Mario will pretend to sell the arms dealer a weapons system, then he and Remar kill everyone. Yes, there are a few complications, but basically everything goes according to plan by the 60 minute mark.

"But wait-" I said, before falling into a shame spiral after having started a sentence with but. "There's twenty minutes left? How can they stretch this out?" My theory was that Mario Van Peebles was going to turn on Remar somehow, possibly because he knows too much about the government's history of secretly murdering people.

Turns out that I was right about Mario, but wrong motivation. It seems that the filmmakers were worried that there was no one to like in their movie about the US government secretly and illegally murdering people, and they decided to make Remar more likable. How do they do this? By suddenly giving him a moral code that makes no sense. After the arms dealer is dead, Mario Van Peebles announces that he intends to keep the arms dealer's money, and use it to bankroll his retirement. Naturally, not being a terrible person, he offers to split it with Remar.

Somehow this offends Remar, who, despite being a person who murders people for the government at a few hundred thousand dollars a pop, thinks the more moral move would be to leave the money lying in the road for any random person to take.

Just to recap, Remar is planning to quit killing people for the government, and Mario Van Peebles, his oldest friend in the world, has suggested that he ease the transition into retirement by taking a ten million dollar payday from the arms dealer he just accepted money to murder. Remar knows that the only other option is to get into a gunfight with Van Peebles, where one of them will be killed.

Apparently the filmmakers thought that Remar's choice was between moral and immoral options, rather than a question of idiocy vs. sanity, so he goes to war with Van Peebles, killing him and his various government henchmen.

Then, just to make the point that this is a profoundly stupid film, on the way out of the country, Remar takes the arms dealer's money after all.

Great work, Sharpshooter.

Which can be purchased here, BTW.

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