Thursday, August 21, 2008

Movies: Shooter



I never read the book it was based on (Stephen Hunter's "Point of Impact"), but "Shooter" has got to be one of the most brainless pieces of big-budget action cinema ever put to film. It follows Bob Lee Swagger (played by Mark Wahlberg), an expert sniper who struggles to survive a nefarious plot. Here's a little pop quiz to illustrate the movie's curious logic (spoilers for those who haven't seen it):

Q: You're a member of a powerful secret society that pulls the strings at the highest levels of the U.S. government. You want to murder a small-time activist bishop who is speaking out against your drilling operations in Ethiopia (you're in league with the Big Evil Oil Companies - this is Hollywood, after all). Do you...

A) organize an elaborate conspiracy to frame a former Marine sniper in an attempted assassination of the President of the United States, whilst at the same time executing the actual killing of the bishop using an equally talented sniper?

or

B) have some guys kidnap the offending bishop in Ethiopia and shoot him in the head?

The plot of "Shooter" is about as silly as what I've described, only with action-movie sniper antics thrown in. You'll get to see Marky Mark's character blow apart an attacking helicopter's rotor with a manually-cycled .50-caliber sniper rifle, you'll see him survive a couple gunshots and a three-story fall without needing a hospital visit, and you'll see him take down a team of mercenaries nearly singlehandedly.

The most idiotic part of the whole thing was the climactic sequence where it's revealed that the sniper's gun couldn't have belonged to Bob Lee, since he always shaves down the firing pins of his firearms so that they don't fire. To prove the point, he chambers a live round in one of his rifles and pulls the trigger while pointing the rifle at his friend. I suppose in the world of "Shooter," a primer is never seated high, or crud never gets in the firing pin channel. It's irresponsible, it's dangerous, and I seriously doubt a real Marine Force Recon sniper would ever do such a thing.

Rating: 3/10

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