(Long Island, NY) Shooter. I hate the name (it’s super-generic), but I guess it wraps up what the movie is all about. It’s about a guy who shoots stuff with guns, and he’s real good at it. I mean, if someone released a movie about a garbage man and called it “Garbage Man,” it would functionally be right, but where’s the pizzazz?
Anyway, terrible name aside, Shooter is an action movie that closely follows a lot of the conventions you’d expect of the genre. The eponymous title character is one Bobby Lee Swagger (with that name he should have a thick Southern drawl, but he doesn’t), played by none other than former rapper, underwear model, and Funky Bunch member Mark Wahlberg (yeah, I keep forgetting about his somewhat embarrassing past as well). Bob is a highly-skilled U.S. Army sniper on assignment in Ethiopia. The mission is botched and Bob and his partner are abandoned by their unit. While Bob manages to escape, his buddy is not so fortunate and dies in a hail of gunfire from a helicopter. This, of course, is quite upsetting to Bob.
Fast-forward 3 years and we find that Bob has done
what every single ex-Special Forces one-man-army type has done in the movies since the beginning of time- he’s living alone in an isolated log cabin in the mountains. His hair is long, he’s unshaven, he has a loyal doggie, and he even has a vegetable
garden! It’s like he had the Official Instruction Book for Washed-Up Battle-Scarred Military Guys and was following it to the letter.
Keeping the cliché train rolling, a group of Government officials lead by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) shows up, asking Swagger to come out of retirement for “one more mission.” It seems that a plot to assassinate the President has been uncovered. The reason the Government is keen to enlist Bob is because the plot involves a sniper placed over a mile from the Commander-In-Chief, and Mr. Swagger is the only man in the world qualified to make such a shot, thus making him the only man qualified to anticipate the would-be killer’s moves and stop him.
Swagger eventually agrees and starts scouting out locations on the President’s travel itinerary, hoping to discover the ideal location the assassin would choose. He finds such a place, and helps to coordinate security to ensure the President’s safety during a public appearance. During his speech, a shot rings out- however, the Arch Bishop, scheduled to speak next to the President, is killed instead. Suddenly, Bob’s world is turned upside-down- he’s shot and wounded by a corrupt cop, framed for the assassination attempt, and on the run. Bob turns to the only person he can trust- Sarah (Kate Mara), the widow of his dead Army buddy. With her help he heals up his wounds, joins forces with a rookie FBI agent (Michael Peña) who for some bizarre reason totally thinks Bob is innocent despite the massive amount of evidence to the contrary, and sets out for revenge against those who framed him.
The best word to describe Shooter was contributed by my friend Don right after the film ended- “Solid.” The pacing is pretty tight, and the action scenes exciting (though they do get somewhat implausible at times, but I know, it’s a movie), and it has your typical slam-bang Hollywood ending. Marky Mark is always (well, I guess I’ll use that word again) solid in his performances. He’s typically underrated as an actor (go watch the excellent Boogie Nights to see a true measure of his talent) and plays everyman-type characters very well- it’s a combination of his acting abilities and the fact that he’s actually kind of an ugly guy which makes him believable in such roles.
The other actors are strong in their parts as well. It’s always nice to see Danny Glover still popping up in movies these days, but for some reason he now slurs like a drunken hobo when he speaks, and it’s very distracting. Maybe it’s a speech impediment, or maybe he’s truly “getting too old for this stuff.” Michael Peña is good as the bumbling FBI rookie who for no reason whatsoever ignores his superiors, common sense, and any chance of career advancement simply because Bob told him “I didn’t do it.” It’s not worth saying Kate Mara is very
hot, because in today’s Hollywood if she wasn’t she’d be working at the craft services table or something and not in front of the camera. But she IS hot, so she gets to act instead. And she can actually manage to do it pretty well, luckily enough.
So, Shooter is indeed worthy of your hard earned dollar (well, 10 of them actually). While Mark Wahlberg doesn’t quite approach the hard-as-nails quality of such action stars of yesteryear like Arnold Schwarzenegger
(do I have to mention him in every review? Yeah, I guess I do), he’s sure a lot better than the current crop of lame wannabes like Vin Diesel or The Rock. Personally, I think this is a good career path for him. Keep shooting people and blowing stuff up, Mark!