2007-07-05 09:42
What it’s about:

Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) is an elite scout-sniper who was betrayed by his country and left to die in enemy territory. Against all odds he escaped and returned to his home in the mountains of Montana, vowing never again to serve the corrupt bureaucrats that sold him out. But when a mysterious retired Colonel (Danny Colonel) approaches him with news that the president will be assassinated by a sniper unless Bob Lee can help them stop him, Swagger has a difficult choice to make.

What we thought of it:

The American people are desperate for an old-fashioned hero – or at least that’s what director Antoine Fuqua seems to think. He’s built a career on portraits of noble warriors striving against a corrupt and dishonourable world – from King Arthur to Tears of the Sun. Even his Training Day was an exercise in righteousness, however twisted. But none of his previous heroes can hold a candle to the triple-concentrated nobility of Bob Lee Swagger.

In Swagger we have three warriors myths embodied at once: the super soldier whose skills come from his purity (ala Jason Bourne), the retired killing machine forced into action by a treacherous world (ala John Rambo) and the innocent patriot pursued by an evil government (ala Will Smith in Enemy of the State). And Fuqua certainly works hard at the start to make sure we know just how regal Swagger is, sweeping the camera around him like a monument to manhood.

The reason for Fuqua’s efforts soon becomes apparent. Swagger is going to do some pretty brutal things, and we’d better be on his side. Apart from sniping a few dozen people, he stabs, batters and incinerates at least that many again, and all with the kind of precision and relish that would be disturbing without the film’s elaborate justification.

And that’s pretty much the only purpose that the bargain basement political rhetoric serves. For all its talk of WMDs, Abu Ghraib and Ethiopia, the movie isn’t really interested in the complexities of American foreign policy, except as a backdrop to kicking some righteous ass. The simplicity of its motives are best summed up by Swagger himself, when his nominal love interest urges him to run from his enemies. “I don't think you understand,” he growls, “these people killed my dog.”

Whether you swallow its justifications or not, Shooter still succeeds as a straight-down-the-line action film. Fuqua’s workmanlike approach to filmmaking suits the genre, and he can put together an action sequence with the best of them. He doesn’t have the flair of someone like Michael Bay, or the majestic sweep of Ridley Scott, but he gets the job done.

Fuqua might have been lost, though, without his fine leading cast who bring far more nuance to their performances than the roles really deserve. Only an actor as stolid and likeable as Mark Wahlberg could avoid turning Bob Lee into a grim parody of an action hero. Michael Peña, whose trademark combination of strength and vulnerability succeeded so well in Crash and Babel, delivers yet another stand out performance.

Shooter is as grim and single-minded as a film gets, without any trace of humour or irony. Its gory simplicity makes it ideal for fans of the action genre, but anyone looking for an interesting plot or an intelligent take on the world had better look elsewhere.

- Alistair Fairweather
This businesslike action film is like Rambo meets Enemy of the State with a bit of Conspiracy Theory thrown in. Still, you gotta love Mark Wahlberg.

Kelly-Ann 2007/05/10 4:22 PM
OK Watched this movie, amd generally a chick flick / romantic comedy type ( you know, movies with limited substance). And though a bit dark and grim at the beginning ( I thought) it is not that bad, I enjoyed it in the end.
claire 2007/05/11 8:11 AM
shooter My mY what beautiful arms you have my dear Mark...mmm
JeSTER 2007/05/18 12:30 PM
Shooter this flick kinda reminded me of that movie Most Wanted with Keenan Ivory Wayans, was aight. for some reason, Marky Mark just didnt seem right for the role in this movie,....esp after watching him in Four the way, they making Rambo 4,.... first Rocky now Rambo, ai tog
neo 2007/09/07 3:56 PM
BoDY that ia a man dont mind watching as the less he wears....
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