Fresh from his scene stealing turn in The Departed, Mark Wahlberg takes lead billing in this Jason Bourne style action thriller about a government sharp shooter wrongly accused of assassinating the US president.
When a black ops mission deep in the African wilderness goes wrong and his partner is killed, Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) says goodbye to the Special Forces and retreats to a remote mountain getaway where he spends the next 3 years shooting pigeons and getting drunk with his dog.
Enter Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover), who has uncovered a plot to kill the president and needs Swagger’s help to prevent it.
Before you can say “Why is Glover talking in that ridiculous voice, is it supposed to be a lisp?” Bob is on the run, with two bullets in his shoulder and half the country’s police force on his ass, accused of assassinating the President.
Adapted from Stephen Hunter’s cult novel “Point Of Impact” Shooter was supposed to be the first in a string of Swagger movies, but on this evidence it doesn’t look like Wahlberg with necessarily get another erm…shot at the franchise.
As his character’s name suggests, Wahlberg can certainly walk the walk but thanks to a misfiring script from Jonathan “Lethal Weapon 4” Lemkin he rarely talks the talk.
In between the carnage, and there’s plenty of it, the dialogue flips from the cliched (“bad things happen to good people”) to the laughable (“sometimes to catch a wolf you got to tie the bait to a tree”) and the initial premise is frankly ridiculous.
For Swagger to have no idea that he is being set up would require a monumental feat of incompetence, something not usually associated with experts in counter intel, and you end up feeling like the dopey swine probably got exactly what he deserved.
As for the extras, first up is an enlightening audio commentary from director Antoine Fuqua that deals with technical aspects of the production as well as the political issues raised in the script.
The 21-minute featurette, “Survival of the Fittest: The Making of Shooter”, then takes us behind the scenes of Wahlberg’s sniper training sessions and the spectacular glacier shoot out (talking heads from all the major players are also included). Next up is the “Independence Hall” segment, which features a bizarre lesson on American history before showing us exactly why Philadelphia would be the best place to make an assassination attempt on the president.
Completing the package are seven deleted scenes which flesh out Swagger’s character a little more but were eventually chopped to keep the running time down.
Antoine “Training Day” Fuqua directs with a certain flair – check out the spectacular opening tracking shot and a stylish mountain top shoot-out – and it is nice to see Philadelphia getting top billing ahead of the usual action thriller stalwarts of New York and LA.
However, the action scenes themselves lack originality - the producers of The Bourne Ultimatum certainly won’t be having any sleepless nights – and a sub-plot involving the luscious Kate Mara as Bob’s love interest is left frustratingly unresolved.
Having said that, Swagger is a promising character, with his knowing humour (“But you don’t understand, these guys killed my dog!”) and amoral attitude to casual slaughter suggesting there may be more in his locker for future adventures.
Staring: Mark Wahlberg, Danny Glover, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Ned Beatty
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Extras: Audio Commentary By Director Antoine Fuqua, Survival Of The Fittest: The Making Of Shooter, Independence Hall, Deleted Scenes