Sunday, March 25, 2007

Movie Review: Shooter

Movie Title: Shooter
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Rhona Mitra and Elias Koteas
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Genre: Action/Thriller/Drama/Conspiracy
My rating: 7.8/10

Bravo! Oh, what can I say? This movie has well sailed across dangerous seas of clichés and cheesiness and yet accomplished what it was meant to be since it's conception: an action-packed entertainment thriller.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, an ex gunnery sergeant who retired from service after his last mission went awry and was left abandoned as "expendable" by his commanding unit. He's a specialist shooter, as the movie title suggests, and is called upon by higher authorities to analyze a possible assassination attempt on the President. After some patriotic and emotional blackmail, Swagger agrees and lo! He finds himself shot at twice and set up by the same people. No, the President is not killed, but the other guy on stage with the President is. That follows the conspiracy.... No Spoilers here.

Swagger runs, escapes, holds off his wounds again and again. Until he lands up in Kentucky at his diseased Sniper partner's widow's for help. Newcomer Kate Mara plays Sarah, and as a guy I must admit that she is rather sexy overall - well, except with that fake southern accent but you'd let it pass. Once Swagger is healed, he's on the run again, this time to seek the truth, prove it, and gain justice. TA-DA! No wait, that's barely half the movie....

Michael Peña (of World Trade Center) plays an FBI agent who instinctively believes there's a conspiracy involved in the so-called Presidential assassination. He ends up playing Swagger's aide, and didn't do a very bad job of portraying a more thinker than fighter kind of character here. His contact in the FBI who sort of believes in him is Alourdes Galindo, played by spellbinding British actress Rhona Mitra, of Hollow Man and TV's Boston Legal & Nip/Tuck. I seldom think very highly of her acting skills, but here she did a alright job. It wouldn't be too hard for her to portray an elegant and suited government official, a dignified role for her, finally!

And now the baddies. So many of them... I'll just name a few. Danny the dude from the Lethal Weapon series, but this doesn't seem to be the same actor to me at all! I understand that he has aged, and respect the fact that he's trying something different for his career by playing the villain. However, the most miscast award for this movie would go to Mr. Glover, who plays a Colonel who recruits Swagger and halfway through has him foxed. Jeez Danny, try and find a TV pilot, maybe? Elias Koteas can play a variety of supporting characters reasonably well. Here, he played the colonel's horribly creepy sidekick/right-hand-man. He's not present throughout the movie but you do hate the character at the end.

And then the end. Well, I won't say what happens at the end, but I will say this: I stood up when the end credits began to roll and realized I was satisfied and entertained. Great action, great acting by the lead, good twists, interesting random facts about how weather and humidity define a shooter's shooting time, fast pace all ensure the movie isn't a B-grader, like most action films these days.

A lot of professional and personal reviews (like this one) have defined the movie to be:

  • Rambo with better acting and better story

  • Action sequences like Bourne Identity

  • Intense second half like Die Hard

  • Mark Wahlberg being the bad-ass he always is!

I somewhat do agree with most of the above. It's still more civilized than Rambo and I applause to Wahlberg for his performance, and to Antoine Fuqua for another action thriller (after Replacement Killers, Training Day and King Arthur).

Who will enjoy it?
Males between 17 and 50. Maybe some ladies who are totally into the genre.

Who will not enjoy it?
Ladies who'd be wishing they were watching Grey's Anatomy or a chick flick instead. And guys who don't digest conspiracies well.

7.8/10 from me. Enjoy it with a Coke Frostee in this weather and some popcorn!

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