Movie Reviews – Shooter

Shooter is a film that seems based entirely around Mark Wahlberg’s new (but kind of awesome) tough guy antihero schtick that recently scored him an Oscar nomination for The Departed. He plays a Marine Gunnery Sergeant named Bob Lee Swagger, whose name neatly telegraphs his personality. He’s pulled from a mission in Ethiopia by his Colonel (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon) after the government receives intelligence on an assassination attempt on the President. Swagger’s new assignment is to track the shooter and take him out before he executes the fourth successful assassination of a U.S. President. Along the way he finds an unlikely ally in his KIA partner’s girlfriend (Kata Mara, TV’s Everwood), who injects some estrogen and sex appeal in what’s otherwise a two-hour trip to the Marky Mark Gun Show. To dismiss it as just that, though, would be harsh.

Wahlberg is ridiculously jacked and tends to chew the scenery in a less becoming way than in The Departed (without losing much audience support), and the plot’s absurdity is only for those whose suspension of disbelief is buttressed with iron cables. As pure fun, however, Shooter disposes of all the predictable plot twists in the first thirty minutes and settles into a fully satisfying thriller with two likable protagonists (the other being Crash‘s Michael Pe?na). Screenwriter Johnathan Lemkin (The Devil’s Advocate) hadn’t written anything since the 2000 dud Red Planet, but apparently spent much of his time working on a scrapped draft of Superman Lives and polishing this script until it shimmered with high-wire action and how-to tips for become a renegade soldier that would make Jack Bauer wince. Director Antoine Fuqua, who is responsible for Training Day, again lays it on thick here, this time with a more satisfying (and life affirming) result. If for nothing else, see Shooter for its fiercely likable star and respectable twists in a genre that’s become increasingly weak and formulaic.