Dueling Reviews – Shooter

by alphamonkey on March 23, 2007 · 0 comments

in Uncategorized


In a new feature for you starving buddha fans, Muldoon and I square off and each give our take of the new flick Shooter.

The Plot

Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), once America’s top soldier and marksman, now lives alone in the mountains.  He is approached by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover), and a small team, in a scene straight out of Commando, who tell him a sniper will attempt to kill the President and they need his help to prevent it.  Swagger takes the job only to find himself framed for the assassination, bleeding and on the run.  In desperate need he turns to the wife of his former spotter Sarah Fenn (Kate Mara) and a lowly FBI agent (Michael Pena) who is the only one questioning the circumstances and discrepencies of the events.  Can the three of them uncover the conspiracy and bring the true villains out from hiding and to justice?

The Takes

Thundarr sez: 3 Stars (out of 5)

In terms of an old fashioned 80’s action flick the film works.  No, it’s not a great film but then given the subject matter who expeted it to be?  There’s a rising tension and the events-spiral-out-of- control plotline leads to some enjoyable moments.

Wahlberg is asked to carry the film and does a fine job.  Will this earn him another nomination?  No, but as an action lead he’s certainly better than the likes of John Cena.  And I like how the script allows him to get bloodied and explores the incredible effort needed in the struggle of just staying alive and free in the first half of the film.

Pena and Mara do what they can with their thinly written supporting roles and Boston Legal‘s Rhona Mitra shows up for even more eye candy.  Guns and hot chicks boys, what more do you want?

The film isn’t without problems, which are almost all caused when it tries to overreach.  The level of disbelief and improbability go from exceptable to a side-trip through Crazywackyfuntown in the final act as writers Jonathan Lemkin and Stephen Hunter try to merge all the events, including what should be unrelated flashbacks, into a JFK-sized coherent conspiracy that isn’t necessary.

Muldoon sez: Stars 2 (out of 5)

What brings down Shooter is the schizophrenic script and its direction.  As the films starts up the engine, what unfolds seems to be a realistic action drama – Marky Mark . . . I mean Wahlberg’s character actually, get this, suffers after being shot.  He spends a day barely able to cope with his injury, and Swagger’s fate doesn’t look guaranteed.

It seems like director Antione Fuqua is going to deliver refreshingly realistic action film, as opposed to films where guys get shot in the heart, only to get up and take down a couple dozen terrorists before being taken to the ER and checking out the next day.  But then Fuqua fucks with his audience, delivering a second act that turns a fun, believable movie into an often talky conspiracy film full of corrupt politicians that proves difficult to keep up with.  The third act only muddles up the film even more, by making its final 20 minutes an orgasm of explosions.

The film’s more of a aged, bumpy woody roller coaster than a drama, and the film is worse off for it.  To be fair, the film would have been a lot of fun if Fuqua had stuck with realism or the buffet of blowing up for the whole picture, but it’s too muddled up to work as one film the in the end.  Wahlberg commands the film as a badass that doesn’t take jack-shit, and carries the film as it is – it’s just too bad he has to carry three films over the span of two hours.

The Last Word

Shooter is a film you may or may not enjoy at the theater.  Although it entertained me just enough to recommend, it’s rising level of craziness made Muldoon finally want to check out.  It’s certainly not a must see and is more worthy of a late night video rental than a trip to the theater, unless you have a strong desire to see Marky-Mark blowing people away on the big screen.

Shooter is rated R for strong graphic violence and some strong language, with a running time of 124 minutes.

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