The concept of government corruption and oil-fueled warfare may be overdone in Hollywood, but Shooter brings a fresh feel to the plot. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film is loosely based on the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter.
Shooter is the story of Bob Lee Swagger, a former United States Marine sniper. Swagger, played by Mark Wahlberg, is involved in an Ethiopian mission gone horribly wrong. His partner and best friend is killed in a helicopter attack, and the men in charge decide to scrap the mission and leave Swagger, alone and eight miles behind enemy lines.
Permanently distressed by the loss of his friend, Swagger moves into a cabin in the mountains, with only his dog as company. After three years of living in solitude, Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) approaches Swagger and convinces him to help stop a planned presidential assassination. The President of the United States is scheduled to speak in Philadelphia, presenting a medal of honor to the Ethiopian Arch Bishop. The plan is for Swagger to scout areas around the appointed sight as if he were the assassinator, providing officials with enough information to prevent the entire episode.
Unable to pass up the offer, Swagger leaves his mountain cabin and researches the best locations and positions that a sniper may shoot from. When the day of the speech arrives, the arch bishop is killed, and a city cop shoots at Swagger, missing his head by a few inches. Instantly realizing that he was set up, he runs from the cop, getting hit twice by flying bullets.
Jumping into an FBI agent’s car, Swagger ends up on the wrong end of a police manhunt. The FBI, police and public believe that Swagger killed the Prime Minister.
Using his resources and knowledge from his marine training, Swagger treats his wounds and drives to Kentucky, managing to elude police along the way. He arrives the next morning at the house of Sarah Fenn, the widow of his best friend and partner.
Fenn hides Swagger in her house for a few days, letting him rest and giving him time to heal his bullet wounds. While at her house, Swagger convinces a rookie Federal agent of his innocence, and enlists him to help from the inside. After many twists and turns, Bob Lee Swagger and the rookie agent, Nick Memphis (Michael Pena) come together as a team working towards proving Swagger’s innocence.
Mark Wahlberg is obviously the star of this film, showing off surprisingly respectable acting skills. Danny Glover gave a lesser performance, although not altogether a terrible one. The choice to cast Michael Pena for the fresh FBI agent and sidekick to Wahlberg is clear at first: he is portrayed as a green, dimwitted young man. However, one starts to wonder how someone so young-looking and inexperienced could possibly be an FBI agent.
While some of the cast is questionable, the film itself is a surprising hit, reminiscent of the Jason Bourne movies. With quick and entertaining fight scenes, as well as plot twists and surprises, Shooter promises to be remembered, for at least a few years, anyway.