Director: Phillip Noyce Starring: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe Certificate: 12 Running time: 141 mins In a nutshell: Still the best attempt to put Tom Clancy on screen, this crackerjack spy thriller found Harrison Ford in a perfect zone of being beleaguered but not yet past it. Super support from Henry Czerny and Harris Yulin as duplicitous spooks.
They wait for days, kill in an instant, then face the consequences. Does Clint Eastwood's biopic of Iraq war hero Chris Kyle tell the truth about life as an American Sniper? Jim Gilliland had watched this scene in his crosshairs dozens of times before. Seven hundred yards from his observation post overlooking a battle-scarred Iraqi town, just beneath a wall daubed with the words "Down USA", a passer-by had stopped next to a litter-strewn roundabout, a known spot for planting roadside bombs. As the lone figure crouched and started brushing away at a crater in the road, Gilliland and his fellow sniper weighed up the odds.
Was it a member of the local insurgent cell, who were then unleashing 100 roadside bombs a month? Or could it be an innocent Iraqi, looking for something in a pile of litter? As if the call wasn't tough enough, another dilemma also loomed large. For the figure in the crosshairs was dressed in a flowing black abbaya, the all-encompassing gown worn by Iraq's womenfolk. To shoot an innocent man in Iraq would be bad enough. To shoot an innocent female could spark an all-out uprising.
"We thought, 'we've got to be sure on this one'," recalls Gilliland, who, with at least 65 confirmed kills to his name, was one of America's top snipers in Iraq. "For a while we thought 'maybe there's water in the crater and she is washing her hands'. Then she stood up and walked away, but came back holding something in her hands. We agreed that if she went right back to the crater, we were going to shoot. But we looked at each other, and it was like 'man, if we get this wrong, we are going to fry.'"