Fresh from a fantastic turn in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Mark Wahlberg returns to the screen in the new action picture Shooter, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur).
Wahlberg plays specialist marksman Bob Lee Swagger (great name). After a mission in Africa goes horribly wrong, Swagger retires to a more peaceful life but finds himself coaxed back into action to help thwart an assassination attempt on the president. Swagger finds himself double-crossed and framed for the attempt (should’ve seen that one coming, Mark). On the run, Swagger must track down the people who set him up and ultimately find out why.
After the end credits began to roll I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Shooter. Despite a couple of obvious clichés and an awful turn from the great Danny Glover, the film is a very entertaining action flick. The movie is aided by a great turn from Wahlberg who effortlessly portrays our action hero with real vigor. He’s extremely likable and therefore you believe him when he spits out some dubious dialogue like "I don’t think you understand, these people killed my dog." After all, it is an action film.
I also liked Michael Pena’s solid turn as F.B.I agent Nick Memphis who tries to help Swagger. Going back to Glover’s performance, unfortunately it is a highly forgettable turn from him, which is a shame from someone of his calibre. Playing the villain Colonel Isaac Johnson, he comes across as very awkward, un-menacing, and in the end completely forgettable.
Running at a cool two hours, the film ticks along at a very nice pace and perfectly executes its action sequences. The action lets up only when it needs to, which is important if a film like this is going to work. The script is pretty solid in general but isn’t quite as smart as it thinks it may be. However I didn’t find this to be too much of a problem.
Shooter is Antoine Fuqua’s second action picture after 2003’s Tears Of The Sun, starring Bruce Willis, which I also really enjoyed. But Fuqua is most famous for directing the brilliant Oscar-winning police drama Training Day. I also liked his underrated King Arthur adaptation, and now I can add Shooter to that accomplished list.
Overall, Shooter is an old skool action flick with potential for a new franchise, the only required improvements needed for next time round being a slightly smarter script and a slicker bad guy.