Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), a former Marine Corps sniper who leaves the military after a mission goes bad. After he is reluctantly pressed back into service, Swagger is double-crossed again. With two bullets in him and the subject of a nationwide manhunt, Swagger begins his revenge, which will take down the most powerful people in the country.
A movie that would not have been out of place in the run of paranoid-political thrillers of the 1970s, Shooter works an entertaining variation on the assassination picture. Mark Wahlberg, carrying over good mojo from The Departed, slides neatly into the character of Bob Lee Swagger, master marksman. Swagger has retreated from his duty as an off-the-books hired gun for the military, having become disillusioned with his government (switching on his TV at his remote mountain cabin, he mutters, "Let's see what kind of lies they're trying to sell us today."). Ah, but the government needs Swagger to scope out the location of a rumored attempt on the life of the president, so a shadowy government operative (Danny Glover) begs Swagger to use his sniper's skills to out-fox the assassin. From there--well, spoilers are not fair, since the movie has a few legitimate shocks and a very nice wrong-man scenario about to unfold.
A novel by the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Stephen Hunter gives the movie a logical spine, even if the premise itself is the stuff of conspiracy theorists. Wahlberg gets support from Michael Pena, as a skeptical FBI agent; Kate Mara, as a trustworthy widow; and Ned Beatty, trailing along memories of Network, as a supremely cynical Senator. Along with the well-executed action sequences (the previously unreliable director Antoine Fuqua gets it in gear here), the movie includes a few potshots at the Bush administration. No, that doesn't put Shooter at the level of The Parallax View or All the President's Men, but it provides some tang along with the flying bullets. --Robert Horton
Beyond Shooter Stills from Shooter (click for larger image)