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SHOOTER , USA , 2007 , MPAA Rating : R for strong graphic violence and some language

At some point during an action/adventure/thriller flick, the audience is forced to make a choice about the suspension of disbelief. If the film in question is either a strict, but smartly written procedural or an over-the-top fantasy, such decisions are easy. Think the impudent hyperbole of 24 or the taut psychological games of BREACH. Alas, SHOOTER falls into a dismal middle ground where plot holes loom large and coherence is confused with having things blow up with an energy level going through the terminal stages of entropy. I have not read the book on which SHOOTER is based, but with only the film by which to judge it, a hack book has been made into an equally hack movie. This is RAMBO with less pomposity and better acting. Mostly.


Most of that mostly is Mark Wahlberg, the titular gunman. He is an actor with a palpable intensity, biceps that can best be described as compelling, and charisma by the bucketful, even when dressed as a yeti (don’t ask). This serves him in good stead as Bob Lee Swagger, an ex-Marine and still a crack marksman with a weakness for serving his country. While his last mission went bad, during it he managed to bring down a helicopter that was bearing down on him and his partner with its guns blazing. He didn’t save the partner, who was also, of course, his best pal, and this is why three years later he is living on a mountain top in Wyoming with only his dog and his guns for company. That and a jaundiced view of what the media is telling him about what is going on in the world. He’s prime pickings for a shadowy government type (Danny Glover in a lugubrious, one-note performance), who recruits him to stop a presidential assassination that will be happening sometime in the next two weeks. The story is weak, but for some reason, Swagger jumps aboard, scouting out possible sites that an assassin might use and reporting back on exactly how he would do it, right down to the customized bullet he’d use. Can you say patsy? Of course you can, and so can everyone else except Swagger, who is very surprised when the shot is taken and he’s the one that everyone from the local cops to the Feds is tracking down.


There are many other reasons to be surprised, such as the cop who can’t take down Swagger at point-blank range, or the way Swagger can take two non-fatal bullets and still outrun the authorities, even taking down an FBI agent while making good his escape. That would be Nick Memphis (Michael Pena), a rookie three weeks out of the Academy who finds himself on the receiving end of Swagger’s story about being framed as he’s being cuffed with his own handcuffs and left to watch Swagger get away in his government-issue car. His boss thinks he’s a screw-up, but Memphis thinks he’s lucky to be alive and while waiting for the review board that will end his FBI career before it begins, he passes the time noticing things like how quickly the trajectory of the shooter’s bullet is available to the FBI. Too quickly.


Before you can say road trip, Swagger and Memphis have somehow ended up on the run together as they track down the truth before the Feds track them down. Wahlberg and Pena are a nice contrast, the former with that laconic, ticked-off style, the latter with a cherubic earnestness. If only they paired up sooner, instead of inserting a tedious romance for Swagger that involves a crash course in battlefield first aid and the medicinal uses of aerosol whipped cream. The object of that romance, Kate Mara, has lines that are laughable, situations that defy common sense, and a pinched look on her face no matter what is going on. That she reappears in order to become the bra-clad damsel in distress, with tons of mascara remaining on her alluring lashes, is a sign of how hackneyed things become.


Things blow up, cars crash, and helicopters swarm in a repeating motif as Swagger does the impossible without ever breaking a sweat on his uber-toned musculature. That’s pretty much the story until we arrive at the talky and painfully obvious denouement. And then another. And finally a third, equally talky denouement that is positively besotted with stating the obvious yet again as though it were a revelation. If it weren’t for Wahlberg’s focused slow burn, Pena’s chipper stab at derring-do, and an eccentric turn by Levon Helm as an unhinged ballistics expert and conspiracy maven, this would be a total loss. As it is, SHOOTER is a waste of time and talent that is afraid to either make sense, or to wallow in its excesses.


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Moviegoer Review
Nathan (
Haven't seen the movie. I am guessing they have ruined another great book. If they could do half of what the book was able to do without the shoot-em-up, the movie would be great.
Cori Hardy (
I got free tickets to the screening of this movie at the AMC theaters on the levee, and I've gotta say that this is my new favorite movie. My boyfriend of two years is a USMC currently based in Californnia, an so this movie hit hard to know that this kind of action is real. But Shooter is deffinatly getting two thumbs up from me!

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