Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), a former Marine sniper and disgruntled American hero, thought he had walked away from the job forever after a devastating betrayal on a job in Ethiopia. Living in self-imposed exile in the Arkansas wilderness, Swagger is approached by his former associates and persuaded to help prevent the assassination of the President by planning it himself - so as to learn the plan. Subsequently double-crossed and framed in an assassination conspiracy that involves a Senator (Ned Beatty), Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) and some very senior security personnel, he is forced to go on the run while trying to discover the truth and who betrayed him.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Despite the fact that the plot outline for Shooter is interchangeable with any number of action dramas (retired wolf operative dragged back into warzone) and despite the fact that it is loaded up with crude political fuel, the film delivers a solid payload, thanks to Mark Wahlberg's credible characterisation and the genre's robust nature.
Whoever thought up Bob Lee Swagger as the hero's name must have been setting out on some anti-American mission but forgot to change the hero's name. In any case, Wahlberg delivers a muscly, Rambo-esque characterisation, complete with a sensitive side - especially for dogs. His small team of helpers also gets to wear the good guise, while the baddies are snarling, mean and hideously corrupt versions of the decent all-American Senator/military/secret agent. Like Danny Glover's nasty, hoarse whispering Johnson and Ned Beatty's malevolent, scheming Senator Meachum.
For sheer action power and violence, Shooter is the full metal jacket, and there are techy tid bits to amuse weapons freaks. The assassination sequence is well shot (as it were) and the chase sequences follow traditional routes of mayhem and vehicle destruction. Good use of locations and plenty of pace keep us from worrying about confusing FBI personnel and Kate Mara is appealing as Sarah, Bob Lee's ex-partner's girlfriend - and new recruit. Yes of course she gets to be the pawn ...
If the heavy handed political material were replaced by something more credible - or more subtle - the film's sequel potential would be more enticing.
Review by Louise Keller:
Hitman becomes target in Shooter, an exhilarating, big budget action thriller about corruption, betrayal and integrity. 'The world ain't what it seems; the moment you get it figured, you get it wrong,' says Danny Glover's retired Colonel Isaac Johnson. Mark Wahlberg's idealistic shooter Bob Lee Swagger is skilled in getting ready for the unknown, but even so, becomes prey to a deadly conspiracy that sees him scrambling through storms of bullets, choppers falling out of the sky and massive explosive stunts. Director Antoine Fuqua delivers thrills on a large scale and Wahlberg is a charismatic hero, overcoming all the odds to find justice far away from the Justice Department.
Swagger has many skills beyond his deadly accuracy with the trigger. He can calculate velocity connections, assess the impact of weather conditions and anticipate anything and everything that might happen. As a boy, he must have been a boy scout. There are formulaic elements, yet the script (based on a novel) is far from formulaic. There are politics, but the film is not political. There are winners and losers plus haves and have nots. And the hero has unlikely accomplices. Firstly, there's an interesting dynamic between the seasoned Swagger and Michael Peña's novice FBI agent Nick Mephis recruited as his spotter and Kate Mara's Sarah Fenn is endearing as the former nurse trainee who can't bear the sight of blood, but plays nursemaid when it really counts. The relationship between Sarah and Swagger has just enough sparks to add a sexy edge, but is smartly contained.
Much of the enjoyment comes from the way Swagger improvises his way out of situations, whether on the run with a bullet in his chest or cornered by the FBI with risky options for a successful getaway. There's plenty of tension, and despite some confusing plot complexities through the set ups and double crosses, we are never let off the hook. Here is a hero who knows how to shoot his way OUT as well as INTO any situation. Explosive.
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CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Pena, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Jonathan Walker, Justin Louis, Tate Donovan, Rade Serbedzija, Alan C. Peterson, Ned Beatty
PRODUCER: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
SCRIPT: Jonathan Lemkin (novel by Stephen Hunter)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzies jr
EDITOR: Conrad Buff IV, Eric A. Sears
MUSIC: Mark Mancina
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Vance Lorenzini, J. Dennis Washington
RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 19, 2007