Shooter starts with two marines on a black op, a sniper and his spotter, camouflaged on the top of a hill, protecting the exit of US forces from Ethiopia. But when the heat is unexpectedly turned up, the operation is abandoned, and the two marines on the hill are abandoned too.
Expendable. Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) is the long-range sniper. Unlike his partner, he survives, but he doesn’t return to the marines. Previously expendable, the FBI now desperately want him back. There’s a threat on the life of the president, a sniper who’ll fire from beyond the normal secret service security cordon. Swagger can help them analyse how and where the shot will be taken.
The first forty minutes or so of the film build up the tension. The same kind of chest-tightening feeling that accompanies reading any of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels.
But it’s a set up. And as the unknown sniper takes his shot, Swagger changes from being the hunter to the hunted. Car chase, shooting, river, DIY first aid, more shooting, flame … and more of the same. The film should come with a warning:
Many sets were destroyed in the making of this film.
Two thirds of the way through the film and it feels like the A-Team has been reformed. A not-so-crack squad of soldiers ... on the run from the military for a crime they didn't commit. An FBI newbie who has overpowered by Swagger while running from the scene of his set up, and the wife of his murdered spotter.
“I love it when a plan comes together” ... and what they lack in experience, they make up for with team spirit!
The moral of the story is never to be complacent. The bad guys are always more devious than you first expect. Expect a sequel.
It comes with plenty of anti-war in Iraq and anti-Bush rhetoric, and it’s better than an A Team episode, but I’d need some convincing to watch Shooter 2. And I wonder what Stephen Hunter, the Washington Post movie critic who wrote the novel Point of Impact that Shooter is loosely based on, would make of the transformation of his story onto the big screen.
If you’re into action movies (rather than thrillers) then go and see it. (Click for links to some of the local show times.) If not, then go and see The Lives of Others instead.