A completely senseless but highly entertaining thriller, Antoine Fuqua´s Shooter greatly benefits from the irresistible lead character of an expert marksman.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, former military sniper coaxed by Danny Glover´s colonel to assist him in identifying and preventing a potential assassination. But after the assassination goes off and Swagger realizes he has been framed as the patsy, he takes it on the lam and attempts to find out who has double-crossed him and why.
The sniper film can be played out as a tense cat-and-mouse game, as Jean-Jacques Annaud gave us in Enemy at the Gates, or as a Halo-like video game; director Fuqua opts for the latter, as Wahlberg´s Swagger racks up instant kills with well placed shots to the head when he´s not detonating homemade explosives right out of The Anarchist´s Cookbook.
Michael Pena´s good guy FBI-man and a love interest played by Kate Mara are improbably and unconvincingly thrown into the mix. It´s still good fun; though any political messages land with a thud on the screen, the director is more than capable at providing violent action-movie excitement. Fast-paced and entertaining for the duration.
But lazy writing gives us a number of scenes that don´t add up, either on logical or emotional scales: one character´s life hinges on him being shot in the chest (protected by a bullet-proof vest, of course) after we´ve witnessed no less than 15 headshots previously in the film; other scenes showcase Wahlberg dispensing of an innumerable number of “bad guys” – but wait, aren´t these “bad guys” simply following orders from higher-ups, pursuing who they believe to be a presidential assassin (much like the independent contractors aboard the Death Star)?
Final scenes reveal Wahlberg´s character as a true bloodthirsty hero, which is all well and good, but Fuqua paints in a much-too-simplistic black and white, desperately lacking the moral complexity of questionable heroes in films like Death Wish or Dirty Harry.
Shoot first, ask questions later.