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 Shooter
 Critic's Rating
   [B-]
 Date Posted
   12th April, 2007
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Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover
Director: Antoine Fuqua

The most intriguing thing about 'The Shooter' is probably the fact that it was originally penned (as a novel no less) by a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic – Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post. While Hunter had little to do with the finished product, his original tale, a mishmash of numerous 'brought out of retirement' stories fused together with the 'wrongfully accused' sub-genre, has enough action packed moments and cloy, shallow dialogues to be worth any casual movie goers time, money and even patience (the film clocks in 6 minutes over the 2 hour mark). This may also explain why, despite being deeply rooted in the shortcomings of a typical, loud, raucous and sometimes absurd action film, the opulent sense of entertainment is in the right place and despite lacking in originality, the movie compensates by being eager to thrill.

In the film, Mark Wahlberg is given the appropriate moniker of Bob Lee Swagger (no relation to any other marksman named Lee). An ex-military sniper, he goes into hiding after a botched operation at the start of the film, only to be pulled back into active duty by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover, unconvincing as the slimy, forever whispering bad guy) when informed about a possible threat on the U.S. President's life during a planned public appearance. Swagger is expected to simulate how the assassin would execute his plan and help save the nation and preserve American freedom (or something like that). But misplaced patriotism can get you into trouble, as Swagger soon learns, when he is framed for the attempt, which results in the death of the visiting Ethiopian archbishop.

Wahlberg does the requisite sneering, bullet eating and teeth grinding required of the role, and his physical prowess and simplistic charisma are more than welcome in a time of fading action heroes, the kind who cock their guns before they speak. For the duration of the film, Swagger is paired with an unlikely friend, rookie FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Pena) and this only strengthens the seeming heroics of Wahlberg's character. For director Antoine Fuqua however, the decision to work on a genre film such as 'Shooter' makes his prior success with 'Training day' seem more and more as the outcome of a great script and an electrifying performance, not his talents behind the camera. Even the set-up in this film will be fleetingly familiar to those who have seen Fuqua's earlier 'Bait' and the wretched 'Tears of the sun'.

In a movie like this when everything is eventually revealed at the end, it seems to make sense, but only in isolation. After film discussions sound something like this: 'So the Ethiopian archbishop was assassinated because….', 'The senator was involved due to….', 'Swagger was framed so that….', but none of it makes any sense when put together and I bet screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin wouldn't be able to explain anything either, even if he had a cross hair set on him. - Faizan Rashid

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