‘Downrange’ (2017): A Different Kind of American Sniper


The plot to Ryuhei Kitamura’s Downrange could hardly be simpler: College students on a remote stretch of road are targeted by a sniper. But, damn, did it ever make me think!

What Can I Say About Downrange?

I’ve seen some reasonably in-depth reviews of Downrange. The problem is, I can’t really say much about concrete plot details. This is a very action-oriented movie, about direct confrontation with a monstrous threat. Basically, you have to watch it, put yourself there, and ask yourself what you would do. In that sense, this is an action-horror movie in the most positive sense. Rather than being stupid or smart, it sort of just is. Downrange will have you assessing how you’d act in crisis mode, which is an important question indeed. Its simplicity gives a sense of urgency.

Here are the stars: Kelly Connaire as Jodi, Stephanie Pearson as Keren, Rod Hernandez as Todd,
Anthony Kirlew as Eric, Alexa Yeames as Sara, Jason Tobias as Jeff, Aion Boyd as Rifleman, Eric Matuschek as Father, Ikumi Yoshimatsu as Mother, Hana Burson as Daughter, Chris Powell as Sheriff, Graham Skipper as Deputy, Nick Burson as Eager Officer and Emory Lawrence as Cautious Officer.

Getting Personal with Downrange – Making Guns Scary Again

Anthony Kirlew in Downrange (2017), Genco/Eleven Arts

In a world still brimming with mass shootings and wars, Downrange almost forces us to not be jaded with the news. In fact, it is an obligation to face these issues, to not hide from reality. Even if we’re powerless to effect change, we still need to face what’s going on. Guns are potentially very scary, and each new shooting in America is not to be yawned at — no matter how maddening, depressing and tiring it all is. We should feel an obligation to pay attention. It’s the very least we can do.

Another thing we can do — and I honestly believe this — is to pledge that one will never engage in this type of behavior. Making a solemn, moral oath like that could in fact help prevent such atrocities. I truly, honestly believe that taking a principled, personal stance against ever doing such a thing is powerful. It’s really something that should be encouraged, and it would be hard to treat it as empty gesture. Put it in writing if you have to. Announce it to the world, and set a great example. You don’t have to be perfect, but you should never go around shooting into crowds of people (and yes, it’s sad that I feel an urgency to write that).

As I type all this, I swear that I’m not a whiny “anti-gun pansy,” or a “gun nut.” In fact, I live in an area with lots of hunting, which means lots of gun owners. Basically, our violent crime rate is pretty low — not non-existent, but still proof that guns don’t necessarily equal crime. Still, watching a movie like Downrange (and turning on the news) reminds me that gun violence is indeed possible, no matter what one believes. It is also uniquely scary.

You see, with knives or baseball bats, there’s a considerably better chance of getting out of an attack alive. In fact, there’s almost a higher degree of honor to that, because everyone has a higher chance of putting up a fight, as equals. However, with a crazed gunman (like the sniper in Downrange), you can be picked off mercilessly and pathetically from afar. You may really need to strategize to get away, and the killer has an unfair advantage, whatever his or her motives (there have been female shooters, though they’re statistically more rare).

It could have been a pleasant trip. Stephanie Pearson, Alexa Yeames, and Kelly Connaire in Downrange (2017), Genco

Eleven Arts

Back to Basics:  Survival is the Name of the Game

Downrange is very much about survival tactics, including patience. It pretty much is the story, and is the character development, and it works here. When confronted with madness, one really needs to put all else aside just to survive. Forget about loved ones, your life story, your plans for the rest of the week, etc. The simple reality is, you have to survive to do anything. This is an important consideration, and very timely.

One of the main lessons reinforced by Downrange? While not all gun users are violent psychopaths, guns do symbolize a world which feels threatened, paranoid, and indeed potentially violent. And, unfortunately, this type of thing easily could happen, and pretty much does.

Another Frightening Truth: ‘Downrange’ is Just One Possibility

While everything I said above is true, Downrange offers us only one expression of unbridled madness. In reality, something like this story can and does happen through other means. For example, a mad bomber could be plaguing people. Or, like what happened not long ago, you could have a random motorist attacking people on the sidewalk. Then, of course, you can have genocides largely carried out with machetes and clubs. It can be politically motivated, or just random craziness. The point is, it can be. That’s frightening unto itself.

Again, it’s easy to be jaded with news and with madness. It is depressing, but it is there. There’s a theory that not giving such things coverage is beneficial, because press coverage only inspires additional killers. That point is debatable. Nevertheless, it makes sense to know what’s going on, and Downrange definitely brings such issues to the fore.

Next: The Rotten Tomato Effect: The Loved Ones vs Captivity

What about you? Did you enjoy Downrange, and did it successfully make you think about violence? Let us know in the comments!