Review: ‘Sniper: The White Raven’

A Very Timely Film About a Sniper In War-Torn Ukraine

Given the recent headlines surrounding Russia and their invasion of Ukraine, it’s hard to remember that this isn’t the first rodeo between the two countries. Ever since Russia ceded its former territory to be its own independent nation, the former Soviet Republic has wanted to reclaim its former territory. And with Russia being Russia, they’re prone to do it by force… lots of force. Surprisingly, the smaller nation is holding its own (with US and European help of course) against Russia, and that’s because they’ve had some practice. In 2014, Russia began a campaign to annex Crimea back into the Russian Federation, and these events are depicted in Sniper: The White Raven.

Directed by Marian Bushan, Sniper: The White Raven follows Mykola (Pavlo Aldoshyn) a simple schoolteacher and pacifist is someone who’s simply living with his wife in the countryside. The happily married couple lives off the grid in an almost Hobbit hole. They keep to themselves, he teaches physics at a local school while she tends their farm. That all changes when Russian-backed forces start a military campaign right on their farmland. Almost echoing the plot of Braveheart, Sniper: The White Raven has Mykola thrust into something bigger than himself when unspeakable tragedy falls on him due to the aggression of invaders.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Mykola becomes committed to intense nationalism and dedicated to ridding the continent of Russian soldiers, as well as Ukrainians who side with Russia. After being rescued by a militia, he joins their ranks and trains to be a soldier in the Ukrainian armed forces. He even gives himself a call sign “The White Raven” after the Ukrainian legend of the white raven before he’s even earned a call sign. A bulk of the second act of Sniper: The White Raven actually displays how Boot Camp would be in a time of war for those not in the military. Mykola undergoes fierce military training and because of his background as a physics teacher, he has a knack for sniper shooting and is enlisted into an elite sniper squad.

Speaking of being a sniper, Sniper: The White Raven does a great job at showcasing just how important (and how badass) snipers are in a military conflict. Mykola and the rest of his team are cutthroat when it comes to handling their business against Russian forces. They operate in the shadow, and strike in unison to dispatch entire Russian platoons with ease. Similar to other films that focus on snipers, Sniper: The White Raven does have to use the troupe of pitting “sniper vs sniper” in the third act, but it’s fun, tense, and bloody, so it works in the film.

Sniper: The White Raven also benefits from its timeliness. I’m sure when it was conceived, the filmmakers didn’t foresee yet another Ukraine/Russian conflict. But this is the world we live in. As a result, the film is incredibly timely and not only serves as a good war movie, but an inspirational film that will surely be something Ukrainians watch for years to come for motivation when dealing with whatever

Russia throws at them next. While most of the film takes place in 2014, there also appear to be a few additional scenes shot that is supposed to be during the present day as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues to the very minute.

Sniper: The White Raven is currently playing in select theaters and On-Demand.