Once you join the military, you develop a deeper understanding of a gun’s power and your relationship to warfare. Sure, sniper movies are usually thrilling and more action-packed than you might actually see out in the field, but they’re also often a deeper look into the reality of snipers and the price they pay internally for their license to kill.
After learning of a plot attempting to kill the President, Bob Lee Swagger, a sniper that’s been living in exile, returns to action. Played by Mark Wahlberg, the veteran Swagger is betrayed and framed for the assassination attempt itself. He seeks revenge and wants answers.
A psychological thriller that looks at the sobering realities of modern warfare, Jarhead follows Anthony Swofford, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, as he enlists in the Marines after foregoing college, finding himself in the Scout Sniper unit. Deployed during the Gulf War for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Swofford is frustrated that he hasn’t seen much action. Quite different to many other military films, this one explores the moral compass of a sniper.
American Sniper (2014)
Based on the true life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper, his pinpoint accuracy as a sniper saves countless lives during his four tours of duty in Iraq. His natural ability earns him the title of deadliest marksman in the history of the U.S. military and the film is an intense portrayal of life as a sniper in the Iraq War. Touching on the post-traumatic stress Kyle dealt with after returning home, this shocking film is a must-see.
Phone Booth (2002)
With a unique storyline taking place completely within a phone booth, hence the title, this thriller finds Stuart Shepard, played by Colin Farrell, trapped in a phone booth while being pursued by an extortionist sniper. Surprisingly, this film leaves you on the edge of your seat without the typical gimmicks of your average action-packed war movie and is one of the few sniper movies without a military background.
Although one of the more Hollywood-esque war movies out there, Sniper follows a Marine and a SWAT sniper as they attempt to assassinate a rebel leader in Panama. With twists and turns along the way, including a capture by guerilla soldiers, they battle on, making for a fun military film.
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Taking place during the Battle of Stalingrad, a Russian sniper and a German sniper are chasing each other’s tails, pursuing one another throughout the film. Starring Jude Law, this fictional plot is probably based on Vasily Zaytsev, a Soviet marksman with 225 recorded kills. With plenty of shooting action, it’s definitely one of the best sniper films out there.
Lone Survivor (2013)
This film follows a Navy SEAL mission through Afghanistan that is unsuccessfully completed. The team is ambushed by insurgents from the Taliban and required to find their way out of the situation. With realistic displays of how firearms are actually used, it’s a war film that military members can enjoy.