Sniper. The White Raven (2022)

Maryna Koshkina, Andrey Mostrenko, Aldoshyn Pavlo, Roman Semysal, Zachary Shadrin,
After suffering a tragedy at the hand of invading soldiers in Donbas, an Ukrainian physics teacher seeks revenge. He sets his sights on an elite Russian sniper whose elimination could change the tide of the conflict.
  • 5.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2022-07-28 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Marian Bushan, Director:
  • Producer:

Trailer:

8 / 10

Intense Ukrainian war drama personalizes the country's struggles

This subtitled Ukrainian action drama is set during the 2014 Russian invasion. Mykola (Aldoshyn Pavlo) is a pacifist physics professor, living off the grid with his wife in a hippie-style, zero carbon footprint isolated hut. They are deliriously happy until a brutal Russian patrol runs across them, mercilessly killing the wife and leaving him for dead. Big mistake. They turned a non-threatening, non-violent fellow into a grief-stricken determined resistance fighter, creating a hard-core killer from the least-likely raw material. After his understandably hapless start in boot camp, he found his niche as the eponymous sniper. Most of the running time is devoted to what he does as a sharpshooter.

Snipers must have a certain set of physical and emotional skills that have inspired scores of action films from many countries - especially the USA. Many have been glamorized or hyperbolized, starring the likes of a Wesley Snipes, Mark Wahlberg or Tom Berenger. Some have been fact-based, like Bradley Cooper's excellent American Sniper (2014). Ryan Phillipe headlined a TV series, Shooter, that ran for a couple of seasons. This one was shot on a relatively low budget, which actually works as an asset. The film has a gray, grainy look that replicates the crushingly oppressive reality of a country under long siege from a more powerful foe. There's less background music than usual, keeping the focus on the intense concentration and incredible patience required for this specialized form of duty. For an action film, there's relatively little action, as snipers must lie in wait, often for very long stretches without making any movements that could telegraph their position. The Russians had their own snipers, too, creating some cat-and-mouse situations with the stakes as high as they come. Director Marian Bushan masterfully puts us alongside our protagonists in the harsh landscape that comprises their arena.

Since the film is a Ukrainian production, Russians are presented as brutal foes with vastly superior resources, and complete lack of human decency. They are thugs with bigger guns. This one will never run in a Moscow theater, unless it's the one in Idaho. Mykola's comrades in arms are not glorified, but their mettle is shown to be quite admirable for underdogs in a lengthy struggle to defend their homeland. There's even recognition of the quislings among his fellow citizens, adding to the burdens of their resistance.

Since the renewed invasion of February, 2022, the film has become tragically more timely than its creators may have expected. It was probably meant as an homage and inspiration for those who did, and may have to, take up arms within their borders. But it now packs a worldwide punch. It's worth seeing not only as a gesture of support for Ukraine's ongoing struggles, but as a compelling personal and cultural drama on its own cinematic merits. And, for the subtitle-averse, don't be deterred. Dialog is minimal, so speed-reading will not be required.

9 / 10

Gritty Ukrainian war drama

Despite the low budget, this Ukrainian military drama is brilliantly directed, photographed, and performed. It tells the story of a Ukrainian civilian who joins the military and becomes an elite sniper, in his quest to seek revenge against invading Russians in the Donbas who killed his pregnant wife.

It definitely has a pro-Ukrainian theme, and as all war movies do, has some moments with hoaky unnecessarily melodramatic dialogue.

But overall, it is a terrific war movie, with interesting sniper training shots, and reminds us of the ongoing terrible war in the Ukraine.

6 / 10

Anti Russian War Propaganda but a Good film

The film depicts Russians similar to world war 2 films depicting Nazi's. Innocent civilian killings, It's hard to believe a Russian soldier would do this but, that is the western narrative being pushed, to gain support for Ukraine. The film itself is quite well made, good acting, and believable scenes, it's hard to tell if what we are watching is based on real events or if this is just a story of fiction. An insight on ongoing war in Ukraine, from one side of the story. With it being so relative to todays headlines and media coverage, and all the fake news in the west, we can't help but wonder where the truth lies. I enjoyed it for it's realistic and modern depiction of European conflict, the story would work well in any setting, science fiction even, so it's an easy watch.

3 / 10

Whose truth......?

For me its impossible to view this simply as a military action film.

On the upside its well acted, the scenes of conflict are convincingly done and it has decent production values.

Then there is the BUT.....whose truth do we believe? In my opinion, this film is pursuing a pro Ukrainian, Western backed perspective, on the Russian Ukrainian conflict. A position that overlooks a lot of opposing truth, from the separatist republics and Russian side.

Watch if you wish but keep in mind there are two sides to any argument.

8 / 10

Well made and rather timely!

The intro claims this movie is based on a true story, but I have no idea to what extent. That said, it's a pretty well-made movie. It was made in 2021, well before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, and is based around the 2014 annexation of the Crimea by Russia.

The main protagonist, the titular Raven, played by Aldoshyn Pavlo, does a very good job of portraying the impact of such conflict, with transition from pacifist to war hero. The other really good performance is from Andrey Mostrenko, who plays Raven's commanding officer.

The sniper scenes are well shot and credible. The sound effects are on point too.

The movie paints a bleak picture of war and there's nothing glitzy and shiny about it. Men killing men in bleak conditions.

Well worth watching.