There are some roles that Mark Wahlberg excels at, and Bog Lee Swagger in Shooter is one of them. Wahlberg (The Departed, Invincible) is coming to a point in his career where he understands his limitations and takes roles that play towards his strengths. He is not that great with a range of emotion. However, he does excel in action-oriented roles that have a modicum of depth to them. He was fantastic in The Departed, and enjoyable here in what amounts to little more than a mash-up between a conspiracy movie and a revenge movie, full of lots of explosions.
Swagger was a Marine sniper before a mission in Africa went bad and he retired. A few years later, Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover, Dreamgirls, Barnyard) recruits him in order to stop the assassination of the President. According to Johnson, somebody who can hit a target from over a mile away is going to kill the President, and Swagger, who is one of the few people in the world with the same ability, is one of the few people who can scope out the scene to figure out where the assassin may be. Swagger reluctantly agrees, only to be framed for the crime once the shot happens. He finds himself the victim of a well-organized conspiracy, where all the details of framing him were planned out in advance.
Of course, Swagger determines that he will find the truth and expose the conspirators by himself, and single-handedly embarks on a vendetta against those who wronged him. This involves a plot that is surprisingly nimble and hard to predict, so unlike most films, it's not too clear where things are heading. The scale of men being manly men does get a bit ridiculous as the movie nears the conclusion, with explosions and shootouts getting a bit out of hand. To temper the story, Shooter includes the character of Nick Memphis (Michael Pena, World Trade Center, Babel). Marshall is an FBI Agent that Swagger subdued moments after the assassination attempt. Marshall thinks that the facts do not add up. The more that he looks into matters, the less sense things make. The Marshall character is a good balance, providing a more methodical, investigative slant to the proceedings rather than the less elegant methods of Swagger.
Director Antoine Fuqua (King Arthur, Lightning in a Bottle) and screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin (Red Planet, Lethal Weapon 4) adapted Stephen Hunter's novel Point of Impact. The script moves extremely quickly and efficiently, slowing down only when the Sarah Fenn (Kata Mara, We Are Marshall, Full of It), the eventual love interest, of Swagger appears on screen. Attempts to place the movie into a broader post 9/11 political reality also seem a bit of a stretch. But Shooter works because Wahlberg is able to appear sympathetic to the audience. He is basically a good guy that wants to be left alone. Nevertheless, somebody pissed him off real bad, so he's going to make sure it doesn't happen again.
|Haro Rates It: Not Bad.|
|2 hours, 6 minutes, Rated R for strong graphic violence and some language.|
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