A Clear Shot Review: Mario Van Peebles Takes on Historic U.S. Hostage Rescue
On April 4, 1991, a group of four men held dozens of customers and employees hostage at the Good Guys! electronics store in Sacramento, California, leading to what would become the largest-scale hostage rescue operation in United States history. In 2020, the new movie A Clear Shot from writer-director Nick Leisure revisits that fateful day by delving into the series of events that led up to the crisis, as well as its horrific conclusion that ended much worse than either side had been hoping for.
Actor and filmmaker Mario Van Peebles leads the cast of A Clear Shot as Rick Gomez, a hostage negotiator tasked with bringing about a peaceful resolution to the crisis. His son, Mandela Van Peebles, also stars as Shawn, an employee of the Good Guys! store hoping to survive the night. Both do very well here, but one thing that I will say about the younger Mandela is that he is the prime definition of “a chip of the old block.” It’s perhaps for the best that the two Peebles’ never share the same screen, as their characters are not related, but viewers would practically be looking at a mirror image if the pair were shown together.
In addition to its real-life inspiration, something else that separates A Clear Shot from other movies of its type is that it sheds more light on the motivations of the perpetrators. Through the use of flashbacks, viewers can get an idea of the situation the gunmen had found themselves faced in before carrying out their plan. What’s also touched on is just how much both sides seem to want the situation to end with as little bloodshed as possible, at least for three of the four kidnappers involved. Unfortunately, as tensions mount on both sides as the day progresses, all it will take is for one thing to go wrong for people to start getting hurt, which is unfortunately what happens.
For the most part, A Clear Shot appears to be very accurate to the real-life story of the Good Guys! store takeover, feeling very much like how that day might have actually played out. This includes the same number of assailants as well as the same number of victims, with the crisis ultimately coming to an end in much the same way. There might be some arguments as to whether the negotiator was in the right with his diplomatic approach to end the situation or if the responding SWAT officers should have broken in sooner. Either way, that will be up for the viewers to decide when watching the movie.
A Clear Shot is an interesting watch for anyone fascinated by the real-life hostage crisis in 1991, or for those similarly interested in movies inspired by true events. Highly accurate and very compelling, I felt it strongly holding my attention from beginning to end. You can check out the official trailer for the movie below to see if this is something you might be interested in. A Clear Shot is available on DVD and Digital on June 2 from Uncork’d Entertainment.