Friday, January 24, 2014

Shooter (2007) [R] ****

At a remote location inside Eritrea, just across its border with Ethiopia, we find Marine Gunnery Sergeant Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), an expert, ultra-long-range sniper, providing protective cover for a covert U.S. military cross-border operation. However, it's not until he and his spotter start taking heavy fire from mortars and a helicopter gunship, and his spotter is killed, that Swagger realizes he's expendable and that no one is coming to extract him. Swagger downs the helicopter and kills most of the enemy; two weeks later his military handler vanishes, and Swagger quietly retires. Clearly, this is not a man you can double-cross.

Fast-forward three years and Col. Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) finds Swagger living in the remote mountains of Wyoming's Wind River Range, with only his dog Sam for company. Johnson tells Swagger they've uncovered a plot to assassinate the President, and need Swagger to scout possible locations in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. where a sniper could take a shot from more than a mile away, so the Secret Service can prevent the assassination. What Swagger doesn't know is that he is going to be framed for a different assassination, that of the Archbishop of Ethiopia, who knows too much about the U.S. military atrocities committed three years earlier in Eritrea, and who will be on the stage with the President.

Fortunately for Swagger, the conspirators fail to kill him, and he manages to escape badly wounded. He enlists the help of Sarah (Kate Mara) the widow of his deceased spotter, and Nick Memphis (Michael Pena) an FBI agent who realizes that Swagger has been set up, and whose own life is now in danger. Swagger promises them: I'm going to find them, and burn their playhouse down. However, as he begins to unravel the conspiracy, Swagger discovers that it extends into the upper reaches of the U.S. government.

On one level, this is a pulse-pounding, righteous-vengeance, guilty-pleasure action thriller. But on another level it is an indictment of the degree to which the corrupting influence of oil industry money has infiltrated the federal government, and into the U.S. Senate itself. Shooter features a clever screenplay, taut, sparse direction, tight editing and incredible cinematography. Mark Wahlberg's Bob Lee Swagger is forged from the same hardened steel as Matt Damon's Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity), so if you liked that character, and you enjoy a good political-conspiracy action-thriller, you won't want to miss Shooter. 

Labels: action, crime, mystery, thriller

Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 53/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=56, viewers=76)

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