Shooter

 
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Written by:Jonathan Lemkin
Starring: Mark Whalberg, Michael Pena, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra
Released: April 19, 2007
Grade: C+

Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) lives in a secluded mountain cabin.  His only companion is his trusty dog.  It’s a life that he enjoys – alone and away from the troubles of world.  It hasn’t always been this way however.  A few years ago, Swagger served his country proudly as an elite marksman in the U.S. military.  However, after his superiors deserted him during an undercover mission, Swagger decided that he’d had enough of the “system”.

At his isolated hideaway, Swagger is approached by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Glover).  Johnson informs Swagger that an attempt will be made to assassinate the President.  Intelligence suggests that he will be shot with a rifle from over a mile away at a major outdoor function.  They don’t know who is behind the plot but it is rumoured to be someone “on the inside”.  Given his experience as a long-distance marksman, Johnson wants Swagger’s guidance to help prevent it from happening.  Swagger will scout out the locations and identify where the gunman could position himself.

It turns out that Swagger has been set up.  A shot is indeed taken at the President but those behind the plot are the same people who have brought Swagger to the scene.  They plan on killing him and saying that he was the man responsible.  Swagger manages to escape (as you’d expect) and what follows is a lengthy game of cat and mouse.  There’s one mouse and about 10,000 cats on his tail.  The odds are not good.

I like the idea of the film but didn’t enjoy what I saw on screen.  Last week, I wrote a column on commonly used movie clichés.  As I sat watching Shooter, I could tick many of them off as the film progressed.  In the very opening scene, Swagger’s army partner shows him a photo of his “loved one” back home.  Sure enough, he’s dead within the next few minutes.

That’s not all.  To make this far-fetched storyline work, there are a million events that fall perfectly into place.  In reality, Swagger should have been killed on at least 10 different occasions during the movie.  Somehow, those shooting at him can never hit him (despite the fact that they too are trained gunman) and there always seems to be an escape route.  Also hard to believe is the help that Swagger receives from a two people inside the FBI.  I’d hate to think that the real FBI had such slack security.

This is the fourth film I have seen from director Antoine Fuqua.  His most high profile film prior to this was Training Day.  Released in 2001, it was very popular and won Denzel Washington an Oscar for best actor (I don’t know how).  I see this film as being similar.  It starts out with a half decent premise but reaches a point where the logic has no meaning.  I am not a fan of his style or the scripts that he chooses.  You may see things differently.

The only positive endorsement I have is that of Mark Wahlberg’s performance.  He was the best cast member in The Departed and he solidifies my high opinion of him with another top showing here.  His character is injured early in the film and you can feel the pain and the suffering that he is going through to stay alive and elude his pursuers.  He may have started his career as an underwear model but this guy can act.  If only he’d had a better script in this instance.