Long-starved action fans may well rejoice at the release of Shooter, a drawn-out chase film with gunfights and explosions and clearly defined ‘good’ and ‘bad guys’. Disappointingly, Shooter lets itself down by being a little too straightforward and predictable.

ShooterPredictable is not necessarily a bad thing – those of us hoping for the next great shoot ’em up may well accept the obvious if it comes with top class fight scenes and big explosions. Films like the original Die Hard have become classics of the genre, and no-one could ever accuse that film of any particularly fresh approach. The action is exciting and fun though, going some way to explaining its enduring popularity. Shooter, on the other hand, never quite feels like it is hitting its straps, and the action sequences are tired and uninspired.

Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) is one of only a few snipers worldwide who can reliably hit targets from beyond the imagined safe distance – he himself notes that nailing the bad guy from that far even requires adjustment for the Coriolis force! Left stranded behind enemy lines alongside his dead best buddy and spotter, Swagger somehow survives to leave the armed services and continue life as a loner in the mountains. Conscripted back into action by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover), he is soon on the run after being framed for an attempt on the life of the President.

What follows this rather straightforward set-up is a faux intellectual chase film. Shooter always feels it is aiming at something higher than action, pretending at intrigue. Its characters are stereotypes, although there is a hint of self awareness in one moment when Swagger acknowledges the power a call to patriotism still holds over him. The supporting cast are nothing more than cardboard cutouts.

Wahlberg passes as action man Swagger, although this must have been a walk in the park after his incredible turn in The Departed. Peña, fresh from World Trade Center, never quite gets his role as a naïve FBI agent, and Glover, whilst seeming to enjoy being the untouchable bad guy, also fails to reach the mark.

With action sequences that are adequate without being inspired, there isn’t much else to recommend this rather tired affair. Fans of the genre might enjoy it for its bodycount, but those attracted by its offer of assassins and intrigue may feel let down. Best to wait for dvd.

Rating: 2.0 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 29th April 2007
Hoopla Factor: 2.0 stars

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