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04/16/2007 - SHOOTER

SHOOTER By Tom McCurrie

Certain movies are like corn flakes, since they deliver exactly what you expect - nothing more, nothing less. SHOOTER is one of those movies.

Written by Jonathan Lemkin (based on the novel POINT OF IMPACT by Stephen Hunter) and directed by Antoine Fuqua, SHOOTER spins the tale of a former Marine Corps sniper, Bob Lee Swagger (played by Mark Wahlberg), who's framed for an assassination attempt on the President. The only way Swagger can prove his innocence is to hunt down the men who set him up as the fall guy.

SHOOTER certainly delivers the type of plot we've come to expect from Hollywood action-thrillers: the innocent man framed for a crime he didn't commit, specifically an assassination attempt on an official of high-office. This storyline is as commonplace as corn flakes, appearing in movies from THE PARALLAX VIEW (1974) to JFK (1991) to MOST WANTED (1997). In fact, SHOOTER is practically a remake of MOST WANTED, in that both stories involve ex-military snipers who are set up to take the fall for the assassination of someone living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The only difference between the two films is that the races are reversed in the lead roles: in MOST WANTED Keenen Ivory Wayans is the good guy while Jon Voight is the bad guy, while in SHOOTER Mark Wahlberg is the good guy while Danny Glover is the bad guy. This isn't enough to make the story feel any less musty. (To give SHOOTER a bit of slack, the novel it was based on was published before MOST WANTED hit the screen, but due to the glacial pace of the studio development process, SHOOTER is only now arriving at your local theatre.)

SHOOTER also delivers on the type of action-thriller hero we've come to expect - the seemingly indestructible protagonist. Swagger is the type of guy who can take a bullet to the shoulder and leg but recover overnight without any sign of a limp or any loss of movement to his arm. He can also take down twenty-four heavily armed men almost single-handedly without getting one little bitty nick, not even from shrapnel. This is not only implausible, but also reduces suspense - if Swagger can kill twenty-four men with the ease of a superhero, it's almost guaranteed he'll defeat the main bad guys, so there's ultimately no anxiety over his welfare. Wahlberg's rather stone-faced performance saps tension even further - after all, if he doesn't look worried about what he's up against, the audience won't feel worried, either.

Of course, sometimes delivering exactly what you expect can be a good thing, and SHOOTER does give us plenty of what Hollywood action-thrillers excel at doing nowadays - creating spectacular, exciting action set-pieces. Whether it's Wahlberg tumbling in a free-fall from a multi-story building or an entire farm (and I mean not just the farmhouse, but the actual farmland as well) exploding in a mushroom cloud of napalm, there are scenes in SHOOTER that will blow your mind if you're an action fan (and I am definitely that). SHOOTER also delivers plenty of blood and gore in these action sequences, however, so the easily nauseated should keep that in mind.

So if you're in the mood for corn flakes, or a typical Hollywood action-thriller that's predictable, unbelievable but full of rip-roaring stunts, then you might be interested in chowing down on SHOOTER. But if you expect something more from your entertainment, you should probably chow down on something else.

Responses, comments and general two-cents worth can be E-mailed to gillis662000@yahoo.com.

(Note: For all those who missed my past reviews, they're now archived on Hollywoodlitsales.com. Just click the link on the main page and it'll take you to the Inner Sanctum. Love them or Hate them at your leisure!)

A graduate of USC's School of Cinema-Television, Tom McCurrie has worked as a development executive, story analyst, screenwriter and teacher of screenwriting. He lives in Los Angeles and is finally finishing up a really awesome novel.


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