Based on real events, this hostage thriller has some timely, thoughtful things to say about race and (in)equality, but due to its low budget and its lack of suspense, it ultimately misses the mark. Written and directed by Nick Leisure, A Clear Shot was inspired by an incident that occurred at a Sacramento Good Guys store in 1991, but the characters still feel like stock cutouts. Van Peebles, while effectively carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, still has to deal with things like his character's beat-up old car and his hidden flask. The sheriff is typically hot-headed and short-sighted, and the bad guys are fairly clueless and somewhat clichéd. Etcetera.
Store clerk Hugh, however, is impressive: He's cool-headed and resourceful and stays on to help the police even after he's rescued and is free to go home. The diverse cast offers several positive representations, and some characters even get to talk about the sad state of racial relations and opportunity in America. With just a little more zing and a little more snap, A Clear Shot could have been a crackerjack thriller, exciting and thoughtful at the same time. But, as it stands, it's too talky, with too many awkward attempts at humor. And even at only 89 minutes, it feels too slow.