Bang-b-bang-bang! Kaboom! Ra-ta-ta-ta! Whompf-whompf-whompf-whompf! Screeeeeeeeeeeee!
This was precisely the movie I needed. I can’t be serious all the time, I need some levity in my writing. What better source of levity could there possibly be than Mark Wahlberg shooting stuff until it explodes? The only real problem with Shooter is that I had to wait almost two hours before Mark Wahlberg started swearing at people. That’s easily what he does best.
Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) retires from the sniping industry after he gets left for dead in Ethiopia. “Thirty-six Months Later”, as the movie tells us (certainly not three years), Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover, speaking almost unintelligibly) and Jack Payne (Elias Koteas) enlist Swagger to plot an assassination of the President so that they may better understand how an assassination attempt may be foiled. Naturally, this leads to an assassination attempt for which Swagger is blamed.
Seeking the help of his dead partner’s widow, Sarah Fenn (Kate Mara, whom you may recognise as Ennis’ daughter from Brokeback Mountain, despite the films not exactly having the same demographics), and Nick Memphis (Michael Peña), the sole competent officer left in the FBI, Swagger (Swagger!) gets patched up and plans his sweet revenge.
How exactly does a trained sniper get revenge on the bureaucracy that betrayed him? By shooting things, of course. Shooting things until they explode.
Can I get a “hell yeah”? I thought I could.
Bob Lee (always Bob Lee, never “Bob” and very rarely “Swagger”) shoots things, and he shoots them well. As with many fugitives from the law, erroneously accused of attempting assassinations or terrorisms or … I don’t know … stealing the handbags of little old ladies, Bob Lee’s best friend is the incompetence of bureaucracy. A couple of leads are not followed, angles of incidence are never actually examined – only metallurgy – and the way that Bob Lee gets off is one of the stupidest in human history (did you really expect him to be put away? If so, shame on you).
Bob Lee is also ably assisted by his ability to twist a man 360 degrees simply by grabbing said man’s hand. Awww yeah.
Outside of all of the shooting, there are few jokes in Shooter. You can tell how hard they tried, though, because one of the few is told by an eighty year old man … and that joke is about Anna Nicole Smith. This eighty year old man is not blind, and he watches the news, yet does not seem to register that Bob Lee is a wanted man. I suppose he just wanted someone to try the Anna Nicole joke on, and didn’t worry about the whole “tried to kill a man” bit. I know if I had material that golden but lived so high up in the mountains, I’d want to try it out.
About characterisation, I will say only this.
Donnie loved shootin’ things. Don’t you take that away from him!
To be honest, all that I wanted of Shooter was for it to be better than The Sentinel, which was about another dude framed for hating the president. I’m telling you now, with more wheelchair bound Russkis hired to work for the American government in honour of their awesome shooting skills per cubic centimetre of film than any competitor, Shooter is roughly twenty thousand times better than The Sentinel. It was a foolish adventure, and frequently laughable, but there was never any point where I threw my arms up in disgust.
If you want an action film where helicopters explode on cue without having to bother yourself with a degeneration into shooting Canadians, then Shooter is the movie for you. The only way it could possibly have been better is if Mark Wahlberg got to swear some more.
I eagerly await the sequel, wherein Bob Lee will take out the US Senate one state at a time! Dodgy politicians – avarice is bipartisan!