The nerve-shredding tension, the edge-of-the-seat anxiety and the thrill of watching stealthy and cunning shooting tactics – it’s no wonder that many of us have our sights trained on sniper movies. Here’s our list of gripping sniper movies which range from political assassinations to being in the sights of a maniac we hope to trigger your appetite.
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
Perhaps the grandfather of all good sniper films. This thrilling movie follows the attempt by an underground paramilitary group to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle. They aim to do this by hiring an infamous sniper known as ‘The Jackal’ (Edward Fox). Will Parisian detective Lebel (Michael Lonsdale) succeed in the desperate race-against-time to hunt The Jackal down?
Director: Fred Zinnemann
American Sniper (2014)
A terrific character study movie based on a true story and arguably the pinnacle of the sniper movie genre. American Sniper sees Bradley Cooper star as US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became one of the most lethal snipers in history – a marksman protecting his comrades during four tours of Iraq. However, it’s his return home that becomes his next conflict as he struggles to leave the battlefield behind.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Soviet sharpshooter Vassili Zeitsev (Jude Law) becomes one of the most famous men in Russia during the Second World War when political officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) turns him into a hero for a propaganda campaign. Fighting to stay alive during the battle of Stalingrad, the film culminates in a cat-and-mouse showdown between Vassili and Germany’s most elite sniper Erwin König (Ed Harris).
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
There had to be a good sniper movie called ‘Sniper’ in the list, and though it’s not one of the best, it can’t be omitted from this list. There’s plenty of gung-ho action to be had here. Tom Berenger stars as a veteran American sniper on a mission in Panama who, after losing his partner, begrudgingly has to team up with a replacement sharpshooter Richard Miller (Billy Zane) who’s younger and higher ranked than him.
Director: Luis Llosa
This movie is as an engrossing first-person account of a soldier’s training before the first Gulf War. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Anthony Swofford, who enlists as a marine sniper under the direction of Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx). When he is finally shipped out to the battlefield, he experiences the heat, terror and also boredom of war in the desert.
Director: Sam Mendes
After a mission goes horribly wrong, elite Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger (yes, incredibly that is his name, played by Mark Wahlberg) disappears. But when a plot to kill the US President is uncovered, he’s coaxed back into service – only to become the target himself. Sniper Swagger then seeks revenge on the powerful figures who betrayed him.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Phone Booth (2002)
Now for a very different type of sniper movie. Set entirely within a New York City phone booth (“what’s a phone booth?” we hear you kids under 30 ask), the nail-biting film follows arrogant two-timer Stuart Shepard (Colin Farrell) and the life-changing call he takes in Times Square. He’s being targeted by a sniper who is going to kill him unless he calls and confesses his affair to his wife…
Director: Joel Schumacher
Grand Piano (2013)
In a very similar vein to ‘Phone Booth’, Elijah Wood plays Tom Selznick, a talented concert pianist suffering from stage fright, who during his next performance finds a note that simply says, “Play one wrong note and you DIE”. A sniper’s (John Cusack) red laser dot is trained on him and his wife… Selznick must literally play for his life.
Director: Eugenio Mira
Another godfather of the sniper movie genre, and not one for the faint-hearted. The film violently depicts the brutal realities of war, and the deterioration of a man’s human values, as a German sniper (Heinz Prulier) is inadvertently left alone to face an oncoming army during the Second World War.
Director: Raffaele Andreassi
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Filmed in a revolutionary, and brutally realistic way, the film follows inspirational Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad as they travel behind enemy lines in Second World War France. Their mission: to find Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Although it’s not a ‘sniper film’ per se, it features a breathtaking sniper sequence making it impossible to leave out.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Sneaky Sniper Movies
We hope this list of sneaky best sniper movies has got you training your sights on watching them (or perhaps to re-watch some of them). Agree? Disagree? Which sniper films would you recommend? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on our socials.