Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
Shooter (2007)
15Contains strong language and graphic violence

Mark Wahlberg has the neo-cons in his crosshairs in Shooter, a post-9/11 thriller that hits all its targets. Wahlberg plays Bob Swagger, a retired army sharpshooter betrayed by his commanders on a black op in Ethiopia, then called back into the fold to stop an assassin from sniping the Prez. Before you can say "Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent", Swagger's framed as a patsy and goes on the run. It's two hours of mayhem but for once it's not entirely mindless...

"Do we want America to be ruled by thugs?" asks Danny Glover's creepy, full bird colonel as he hits Swagger with the patriotism card. "Sure, some years we do," comes the whip-smart reply. It may be a boy's toy action flick - sniper rifles, DIY field surgery, helicopter gunships - but Shooter clocks in a couple of IQ points above your average B movie. Mainly that's because it refuses to let its non-stop, close quarters rough stuff get in the way of acerbic political cynicism. "There ain't no Sunnis and Shia, no Democrats or Republicans," thunders Ned Beatty's corrupt senator (doing a fair Dick Cheney impersonation). "There's just haves and have-nots".

"WAY BETTER THAN AVERAGE BIG GUN FARE"

Disillusioned politics aside, the rest of Shooter is par for the (assault) course: rookie FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Peña, a poor man's Mark Ruffalo) believes every word of Swagger's conspiracy theory, even though it reaches way beyond his pay grade; meanwhile love interest Kate Mara gets used and abused (then virtually forgotten about) as Swagger's Achilles heel. Director Antoine Fuqua helms with brisk yet uninspired efficiency, lingering over the ker-chunk of big shell cases popping out of big bore rifles and sticking Wahlberg in a fluffy white chicken outfit (sorry, sniper snow suit) for a mountaintop climax. It's no masterpiece, but it's way better than the usual big gun/small brain fare. Heck, stick an extra half star on that rating...

Shooter is released in UK cinemas on Friday 13th April 2007.

End Credits

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Jonathan Lemkin

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Kate Mara

Genre: Action

Length: 124 minutes

Cinema: 13 April 2007

Country: USA

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