March 25, 2007 -- “Shooter,” as one might expect from the title is a standard shoot-'em-up action movie along the lines of “Collateral Damage,” “The Marine” and “Commando.” There is a lot of noise, explosions, blood and fist fights. It is pretty much by the book with no real surprises. Even though it is predictable, it is well-crafted enough and entertaining enough to be worth a look if you are into this kind of thing. I certainly am.
Mark Wahlberg of “The Departed” stars as Bob Lee Swagger, an expert sniper who has quit the military after he is betrayed and left for dead. He's still patriotic enough to be lured back into duty to help protect the president of the United States who has been targeted for a sniper attack. Bob does his job faithfully, but is betrayed, shot and framed for murder. He survives the attack, recovers and plots his revenge against those who betrayed him.
Swagger is relentlessly pursued by a group of powerful shadowy conspirators led by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover of “Dreamgirls”), who reports to Charles F. Meachum (Ned Beatty of “Cookie's Fortune”), one of his well-placed government contacts. Johnson has a large supply of thugs at his disposal, the resources of all law enforcement agencies and an army of trained mercenaries with complete battle gear. You know who is winning this war, don't you? Along for the ride are rookie FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Peña of “World Trade Center”) and Sarah Fenn (Kate Mara of “We Are Marshall”), the pretty widow of Bob's old army buddy, Donnie Fenn (Lane Garrison). Both play significant roles in the film. Also featured is the lovely Rhona Mitra of “The Number 23” who plays FBI agent Alourdes Galindo. All-purpose bad guy Rade Serbedzija of “The Fog” plays Michael Sandor, one of the bad guys. A small, but memorably funny and eccentric performance is turned in Levon Helm as Mr. Rate, a firearms expert/conspiracy theorist. Helm is best known as the drummer for the seminal rock group, The Band.
The acting is solid throughout, which helps the film over the rather large plot holes. If you are looking for something that is believable, this is not your film. The plot of this film strains at the limits of this viewer's willingness to suspend his reason. Some may not be willing to go to such lengths, but I like this sort of movie. There are some interesting character names in this film, Bob Lee Swagger, for instance, named after legendary Confederate General Robert E. Lee, no doubt. Then there is Nick Memphis, what kind of name is that? Then there is Alourdes Galindo. That has got to be a one-of-a-kind movie name.
The film makes a not-so-subtle swipe at the current Iraq War, when one of the bad guys in the know says it was really about oil and not weapons of mass destruction. Gosh, you think? That isn't the only time in the movie that WMDs are mentioned, either. It is also worth noting that Bob Lee Swagger was betrayed and left to die by the same kind of politician who voted for the Iraq War in the first place, the same kind of situation that countless troops found themselves in Iraq and many other American wars. Veterans coming home to underfunded, understaffed, run-down military hospitals is not something unique to the Iraq war. It has happened repeatedly in America's history, along with low pay, poor mental health services, disability services and other chronic problems. “Support the troops” is a pretty hollow slogan in America. Bobby Lee Swagger is one soldier who finally got even with one politician who stabbed him in the back. This film rates a C+.
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