Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Written by Jonathan Lemkin. Based on the novel by Stephen
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Kate Mara and Danny Glover.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 3/20/07
Washington Post film critic Stephen
Hunter--the one who basically nails everything to the wall and beats
it with a proverbial stick in his reviews--writes fiction and
non-fiction books on the side, so well in fact that he won a freakin'
Pulitzer four years ago...so, all of this combined made "Shooter"
(based on Hunter's novel "Point of Impact") worth checking out for
me, because as much as I can hate the guy, his writing is always
quite strong. (Still one of my favorite film essays ever:
Hunter's piece on how "Starship Troopers" compares with neo-Nazi
Directed by Antoine Fuqua--who has made a
decent action scene or two in his time, with films like "The
the Sun" and his best work,
is taylor-made for an action/drama crowd, with a few laughs
sprinkled in along with star Mark Wahlberg, whom the ladies adore.
Wahlberg plays Bob Lee Swagger, a sniper with a big problem: after
retiring three years ago, he is asked by retired Colonel Isaac
Johnson (Danny Glover) to help scout potential issues at a
presidential speech in Philadelphia...and when the big day comes for
the speech, Swagger is double-crossed by Johnson and a large crew of
government turncoats bent on world domination, cover-up, murder, you
name it. Barely escaping Philadelphia with his life, he turns
to both the fiancée of his former sniper buddy (Kate Mara) and a
green FBI agent (Michael Peña) who suspects that something is up
with the way the whole aborted assassination plot went down.
Many, many people have to die before Swagger can get his shot at
learning what Johnson & Co. were really up to with that
"Shooter" is great slap-happy fare; it's got
just enough of everything to make you leave the theater saying some
form of "That wasn't too bad" or "Not too shabby!" or "Hmm...good
stuff" or whatever. The movie feels like a better-acted
version of the Keenan Ivory Wayans shittastic classic "Most Wanted",
featuring almost the exact same plot elements. The action
sequences are quite good, thanks to a mix of Hunter's detailed
plotting and Fuqua's always-strong action-scene execution...even IF
you have to stretch to buy that Swagger is not just a sniper, but
damn near a super-soldier. Wahlberg is easy to love; Peña
isn't quite as likeable as he normally is, but his part is kept to a
minimum. Mara's drawl and apparent distaste for cotton shirts
that aren't see-through make her quite a sight; thankfully, she's
just eye candy, not the love interest (is there anything more wrong
than the idea of a guy watching his partner get killed only to have
the survivor hitting on that dead guy's girl? Jeez....).
Inevitably, we have to find out what makes
this Johnson guy such an asshole, and the revelations really aren't
that great. Further, Glover has such a bad lisp in "Shooter"
that it becomes an out-and-out distraction...is Glover just getting
old and unable to fully enunciate his words, or is that supposed to
be a character flaw? I wasn't sure, but it was annoying the
living SHIT out of me for the entire film. Johnson's
underlings are poorly drawn, and worse, seemingly unqualified to be
true emissaries of death...Elias Koteas plays a character whose only
real character trait appears to be his love of sniffing the Mara
character's hair. There are other little tidbits like this
that must have sent Hunter up the wall when he saw this for the
first time as a finished product; I didn't stay for the Q&A after
our freebie tonight because I knew that since Arch Campbell was
running it, I wouldn't get the true Hunter anger that I was
But, overall, "Shooter" is a good time that
is quickly digested and moved out of your system. Just know
that much like Wahlberg's last film,
"The Departed", a
LOT of people get shot in the head.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard