Shooter (Fuqua, 2007)

Point and shoot. The moral objective is concise and simple in Antoine Fuqua’s harsh and cynical actioneer Shooter, where Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger (Mark(y) Mark Wahlberg) takes no prisoners after he’s framed by some government lackey’s (Danny Glover and co.) during an attempt on the President’s life. Fuqua, a determined action director, has made gunk in the past (Tears of the Sun, King Arthur) but also has a mean streak in him, which Shooter convincingly wears on it’s sleeve. The man behind Training Day obviously likes his heroes brutal, and Wahlberg’s angry as hell ex-vet waxes many a bad guy with vim and vigor. Side by side with the violence lays an extreme displeasure with corruption (the bad guys are cartoons, but ironically realistic ones), and Swagger’s constant reference to modern day scandals (Abu Ghraib, Iraq, etc.) makes for an interesting parallel between the honor and vengeance of a displeased citizen, often showing how the two merge together in the face of tyranny. But Shooter is most certainly a mainstream action picture, one bent on giving the target audience a number of fancy head-shots and precise gun battles. As Swagger methodically kills up the chain of command, it’s almost disappointing he doesn’t find the real life baddies (insert Bush et al here) by the end of the bloody ordeal. Instead, we get Ned Beatty hamming it up as a Montana Senator (couldn’t he have been from New York or something more sinister, like Texas!), laughing off the traditional “one man can’t make a difference” credo Swagger lives his life by. Shooter isn’t a great film, but it does address an anger brewing wholeheartedly within Bush’s supposed “base”, that is those with guns who are just as fed up with the current administration as the liberals. The times, they are a changin’ and Swagger’s point of view resembles a clear cut Rambo aesthetic, one which traditionally everyone underestimates until it’s too late. Fuqua, like Swagger, has an axe to grind with the way this country is being run, he just can’t separate the subversive premise from the silliness of Hollywood genre traits. Looking through the scope of an enraged American sniper will have to be enough, for the time being anyway.

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