***1/2 (out of 5)
March 23, 2007
Mark Wahlberg as BOB LEE SWAGGER
Michael Pena as NICK MEMPHIS
Danny Glover as COLONEL ISAAC JOHNSON
Kate Mara as SARAH FENN
Elias Koteas as JACK PAYNE
Rhona Mitra as ALOURDES GALINDO
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“Shooter” was one of those movies I had been hoping for all week long. It’s not that it’s any great feat in cinema. It’s just that with nine movies releasing within eight days, the screening schedule was booked. And with the exception of “The Host” (a pretty clever and exciting Korean horror flick) and “The Lookout” (a not-so-standard heist movie), pretty much everything I saw that week stunk.
After suffering through movies like “Premonition,” “Pride” and “Dead Silence,” nothing seemed more welcome than “Shooter.”
The movie follows Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), a Marine sniper who is left for dead after a mission in Ethiopia. Because he’s such a badass (sorry, there’s no other way to say it), he makes it back home, quits the military and hopes to spend the rest of his life in his secluded Oregon cabin watching for black helicopters.
His tranquility is interrupted when several men from the government approach him and tell him they need him for a mission. They have intel that someone is going to try to assassinate the president from a distance of up to a mile away. Since Swagger is one of the few people in the world that could make the shot, they ask him to scout the locations and predict how the attack would go down.
On the day of the hit, Swagger is blindsided by a doublecross. He’s been set up as a patsy, framed for the assassination. This sends him on the run, where he befriends a skeptical FBI agent and the hot girlfriend of his dead spotter. Like a modern-day Rambo, Swagger targets the bad guys in the government who set him up attempts to clear his name.
So far, 2007 has been pretty strong with the action flicks. However, they’ve been large, stylized films, rather than somewhat believable real-world dramas. It’s not that “Shooter” is a possible scenario. Believe me, it’s pretty far-fetched, but it sinks deeper into reality than movies like “Ghost Rider” and “300.”
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the man who gave us “Training Day” and “Tears of the Sun,” “Shooter” is a great chance for escapism. For the most part, it stays out of the politics of the world, which is no small feat considering the story is grounded in politics. For this reason, it does delve a bit into the political side with an out-of-place speech by Ned Beatty near the end. But if you can sit through that without squirming too much, you should have fun.
The performances are pretty good. Mark Wahlberg is excellent, as always, and he captures the same heightened intensity he had in “The Departed.” Danny Glover comes off as a bit funny as the bad guy, not because he’s hampered by a career of “Lethal Weapon” movies, but because he has an odd lisp throughout. I never quite understood why they did that.
Still, “Shooter” is in good company, being a 2007 action film. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found it to be exciting, thrilling and fun. It’s not a movie to think too deeply about. If you do, the logic begins to unwind, and the film will collapse upon itself. It’s better to just get the big tub of popcorn, the 82-ounce soda and sit in the front row. In this respect, it’s a big-screen event film and features one of the greatest explosions ever recorded on film. (Trust me, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.)