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Movie Review: Shooter

Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Jonathan Lemkin from the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter

Mark Wahlberg is certainly one of the hottest actors around right now.  It seems like everything he’s in, good or bad, is a big hit.  Last year he had a one-two punch with Invincible and his Oscar-nominated performance in The Departed.  Here, he teams with director Antoine Fuqua, a guy who hit the big time with Training Day six years ago.  Before and after that film Fuqua has been a stylish director with nothing much to show for it: The Replacement Killers, Bait, Tears of the Sun, and King Arthur are his other films.

Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) is an army sniper, who fights alongside his buddy Donnie Fenn (Prison Break’s Lane Garrison, recently in the news for drunken driving manslaughter) in a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia.  Things go wrong, Fenn gets mowed down, and Swagger retreats to mountain life for three years.  He is beckoned by a former colonel, Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover), to thwart a Presidential assassination attempt, claiming to have heard “some chatter.”  Swagger calculates the angles only to find out he’s being set up, and he’s nearly gunned down himself before making his escape. 

After subduing FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Pena) and taking his car, Swagger mentions that he’s innocent, naming names, and so on.  Memphis, hardly a veteran of the FBI and his job on the line already, decides to investigate on his own, with the help of a higher-up, Alourdes Galindo (Rhona Mitra).  Meanwhile, the fugitive Swagger finds his buddy Fenn’s widow Sarah (Kate Mara) to heal up and try to find evidence as well, eventually teaming with Memphis, who starts finding things in the case that don’t make sense.

The first hour and a half of this is really good.  In the first act, it’s fun to watch Swagger calculate how an assassin thinks.  In the second act, Memphis going through all of the evidence, playing it smart, doing real detective work, was a thrill since most movies are pretty dumb when it comes to evidence.  It’s after an excellent climactic battle that the film sort of turns south and becomes much too long and pretty ridiculous.  It’s here where filmmakers get that cathartic moment, even though it’s fiction, to blow away entrenched, corrupt members of the government.  A smart action picture turns into a pretty dumb one in the last thirty minutes.

So that left me with a bit of a quandary as to how I ultimately felt about the film.  I just wish it could have ended on a high note, and it had the chance to do so.  Some people will shrug it off and think those last thirty minutes are fine and dandy.  I recommend the film overall, since for the most part it did the job as a well-crafted action/adventure.


Comment from KW
Time: March 23, 2007, 10:10 am

It just amazes me this guy’s career path. He grows up pretty rough, petty crime, etc. Then his looks land him modeling gigs–primarily underwear. From that he puts out an album (”feel it! feel it! Got those, good vibrations. come on! come on!”). Then gets a couple acting gigs.

Now he’s an Oscar nominated, terribly respected actor as well as a producing player (Entourage). Talk about maximizing your opportunities!

Love me some Marky Mark.

Comment from The Projectionist
Time: March 23, 2007, 12:00 pm

Yeah, it’s hard to believe he’s shaken that Marky Mark thing. I remember in 1995 with Clueless Alicia Silverstone’s character making a disparaging remark about him needing to take a break from his “busy pants-dropping schedule” to do charity work.

Comment from Reel Fanatic
Time: March 23, 2007, 7:01 pm

I’ll definitely take your words about the ending into consideration, Chris, but overall it sounds like my kind of movie, so I’m definitely going into give it a chance tomorrow

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