Wahlberg has Swagger
Having been hung out to dry during a secret mission in Africa, expert marksman and patriot Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg - The Departed) takes self enforced retirement, choosing to live life alone up in the Rockies. But when he is approached by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover - Dreamgirls) and his agency to work out the best way to assassinate the President so that they can defend against it, he agrees because of his patriotism. But having reported back on the best way to assassinate the President, Swagger finds himself being set up for an assassination attempt and forced to go on the run with the police and military hunting him down. With just a couple of allies Swagger must use all his skills not only to defend himself but to discover out why he has been double crossed and whilst also clearing his name.
To be honest "Shooter" does feel a little slow to start with as we are taken to Africa and we not only witness the expertise of sharp shooter Bob Lee Swagger but also learn that he and his spotter are left out to hang when the mission goes wrong. But whilst slow it is both important and at times exciting especially when it comes to establishing Swagger's awesome expertise with a gun. The good news is that these scenes are the only slow ones in "Shooter" and whilst slow they don't go on for too long.
One of the strengths of "Shooter" is that it knows exactly what it wants be and that is about Swagger using his military training to not only defend himself whilst on the run but also to clear his name. What that means is that whilst we have this storyline where Swagger is first chosen to assist and then set up for an attempted assassination it doesn't bog itself down in trying to be mysterious. In fact its rather a nice idea that this patriot would be drawn out of self enforced retirement to be set up as it allows deep burning issues to surface in him over what happened in Africa. But it never over complicates things or tries to be too clever, in fact we know he is set up at the same time as he finds out and as such we learn the truth, why he was chosen, at the same time as he does.
So really what this means is that whilst there is this reasonably clever storyline "Shooter" is all about the action, all about Swagger going on the run and protecting himself. I suppose its sort of stereotypical that along the way he gets a couple of allies, a wet behind the ears FBI agent who believes him and the girlfriend of his former military spotter, and yes there is stereotypical romance as well. But it works because this is all about the excitement and escapism of Swagger neutralising the enemy whilst clearing his name and so we get some marvellous action from Swagger shooting from distance to take out the enemy through to more close quarter battles. And there is what I call the "MacGyver" factor as he uses household goods in a manner of ingenious ways, one of the most spectacular is the adhoc IV drip he constructs to deal with 2 bullet wounds he suffers. To put it simply "Shooter" wants to be an exciting action movie and it is an exciting movie and it does it by giving us a hero and keeping it simple.
Now when it comes to our hero that of Bob Lee Swagger I had doubts over whether Mark Wahlberg was right for the part but he does a decent enough job. He certainly gets across the element of being an expert guns man and he really explodes into action when ever he has a gun in his hand. There are still elements of weakness, an occasional puzzled expression feels very wrong but otherwise Wahlberg leads the movie nicely. And to be honest whilst "Shooter" also stars Danny Glover, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas and Kate Mara it is really all about Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger although Michael PeÃ±a grabs a few scenes as the wet behind the ears FBI agent Nick Memphis.
What this all boils down to is that "Shooter" pleasantly surprised me as it was far more entertaining than I expected it to be. It's strength is that it knows what it wants to be and that is a snappy action movie and that is what it delivers. It still has an interesting storyline but it doesn't try to over complicate matters by trying to make it more complex than is needed. And so what we end up with is a lot of action and some "MacGyver" style ingenuity which all links back to the simple storyline of Bob Lee Swagger forced to go fugitive after he is set up for an assassination attempt.