Updated: May 15
I thought watching a movie with the intent of analyzing it was going to ruin the watching experience for me but, I actually think I enjoyed it more. This will contain spoilers in a moment but first I’m going to give you some spoiler free reasons why you should watch this movie.
First, Angelina Jolie. I’m a fan, especially of her action stuff.
Secondly, and possibly most significantly outside of purely cinematic reasons, this movie highlights firefighters so well. We get to see the emotional impact of their work a bit and we get to see just a piece of the magnitude of the fight they fight time after time. Especially after record numbers with wild fires in the past couple years I think they deserve to be highlighted like this.
Thirdly, and lastly before spoilers, the characters and their relationships. As usual, this really shines when the acting is good and it is. The characters are full people, even the ones that we don’t get a lot of background on have moments that reveal character. We get to see how the characters interact with each other, the relationships they have and this is what makes us root for them.
Now for the spoiler section.
In the opening shot of the film we see firefighters parachuting into the fire. This just looks cool but for people that know parachuting they also know that hot air from the fire makes that a difficult jump. The air becomes unpredictable and can throw you around without warning. Having a shot that looks cool but has an added layer of appreciation for people experienced in the skill isn’t overly common.
This movie gives off great Jack Reacher/Shooter vibes. Good ol’ bad guy vs. good guy film. We know who to root for and why. Gray characters are fun but sometimes you want to watch something where good and bad are clear cut.
The scene where the son and father stop on the side of the road and the son goes off to pet the horse is filled with tension. Why? We are reminded there are other threats beyond the men chasing them. They could get in a crash, be kicked by a horse, any number of things. The world is already dangerous and this reminds us of that.
The sniper doesn’t have any “I’m evil” moments. He’s a guy doing his job and doing it well. To him, he’s punching the clock.
When the wife answers the door, she reaches for bear spray. This is wonderfully realistic. Bear spray is far more powerful and legal in more states. A great weapon in a pinch.
When they set the forest fire, we see the sniper have a flicker of doubt. He’s used to clean. Forest fires aren’t clean, this is more than punching a clock. We also get to see that our other killer has a flicker of malicious appreciation. He likes destruction.
Seeing survival skills used in a tactical setting is so refreshing. The way it was done, having it be a woman, a pregnant black woman, was such a badass moment. It was empowering and realistic the way it was done.
The settings are fresh. Through the settings, and the young boy, we are tricked into learning. What isn’t explained outright to the boy is shown clearly so you still get to learn while watching a great action flick.
Having the two men use a basic term, “loose end” is a great way to let the cop/husband know that his wife is fine. This leads to another great moment when he says he’s ready to die. He knows they won’t hurt his wife because they don’t have her. I think if this moment had happened earlier, he would have been killed in this moment but the sniper asks for the word first. Because of his flicker of doubt earlier he may be trying to keep the body count down, keep it clean. Since this is after the sniper has his moment of doubt the scene is more believable.
When Angelina’s character and the kid first come upon the fire, she says they can’t go through, it isn’t safe. She goes on to explain that not only is continuing not safe but going back means rescue. This is something I think a lot of people get wrong with kids. They explain the no but not why the alternate path is better. I like that it is explained fully.
The shootout between the killer in charge and the wife is a great moment. We get to see the contrast between cover fire and careful shots. The moment where they both have to reload is a wonderful moment of tension.
A moment I didn’t like was when the cop loosens his vest to check his wounds. As someone trained in survival and first aid, he’d know not to do this. If you have a gunshot wound or stab wound under a vest you do not loosen it. You keep it tight to help keep the wound closed.
We see that, although the sniper has a conscious, he still has a job to do and is going to see it through.
And… it’s based off a book. I love to see writers having their work put on the screen. No wonder it was such a great movie.