Director: Antoine Fuqua (King Arthur, Tears of the Sun, Training Day)
Novel: Stephen Hunter
Screenplay: Jonathan Lemkin
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Jonathan Walker
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 124 min
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reviewed by Andrew Dykstra
     Preceding Shooter was the trailer for Hot Fuzz, reminding the audience in a tongue-in-cheek fashion that it was produced by guys who had “seen every action movie ever made“. If this is reflected in the style and story of the movie, then it looks like Shooter was made by the same guys. Now know this before I get going here: I dig action flicks. The genre has been a favorite source of entertainment ever since I was old enough to watch movies and despite a growing love of the more esoteric side of the film medium, I still enjoy the popcorn section.

      Shooter, in a bare bones synopsis, is the story of Jimmy Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), an army sniper who leaves the service and builds himself a little cabin in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee. He gets found by a military honcho (Danny Glover, sporting an unsightly mouth retainer) who wants him to lend his special expertise to help construct a defense for the president during some public speeches. Needless to say, Swagger gets set up to take the fall for an attempted assassination but he escapes and uses his keen instincts and training to take down the guys responsible for setting him up.

      Shooter is a cartoon, pure and simple. The muddled storyline is a cartoon, the characters are cartoons, and the explicitly vocalized politics are a cartoon. There is nothing remotely real in the whole piece, which is its undoing and also, to a lesser extent, its saving grace in the sense that it keeps the movie from being unwatchable. Unfortunately, as I said before, it’s also a clumsy blend of so much that we’ve seen before. I lost count at how many specific action thrillers got their gimmicks and plot points lifted by Shooter. It’s mostly a First Blood knock-off, with some Cliffhanger, The Fugitive, and The Jackal thrown in for good measure. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing a few tried-and-true movie tactics to tell your story, but the problem with Shooter is that it has almost none of its own personality left to show when the dust settles. We know Fuqua can do better, as evidenced by Training Day, but his competent grasp of action moviemaking is drowned out by the screaming lack of any originality.

      In the end, I didn’t hate Shooter. It had some good performances from Wahlberg and Elias Koteas particularly, and a couple great action set pieces to get the audience good and tensed up. But a movie with no real identity is almost as bad as a movie with no heart, and there’s nothing in it to keep Shooter from becoming a forgotten, anonymous title in a matter of mere months.

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Links: - full cast and crew
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