Lowdown: A sniper finds himself trapped in his own trap.
Director Antoine Fuqua has had a relatively promising start with Training Day but moved on to mediocrity with his take on King Arthur. In Shooter he proves mediocrity is his middle name with an action film so predictable and so not unlike everything we have seen before it’s just completely redundant. The only attribute with which Shooter can boast a place for itself is in it basing most of its action around sniper rifles (as opposed to your average M16s or their likes).
Mark Wahlberg is the traumatized sniper left behind by his country after some mission no one was supposed to know about. Years later, he gets a home call from a lisping Danny Glover (why the lisp?): Glover calls on Wahlberg’s patriotism to help avert a sniper plot to kill the president by using Wahlberg’s skills to try and predict where and what the evil sniper would do. Wahlberg complies only to find himself in some sort of a conspiracy where he is blamed for shooting the president. How can he get out of it? By using his Rambo like skills to kill the baddies, of course. All of them.
On the positive side, Shooter is quite entertaining in its action. The film has this attitude to guns and ammo that made me think it was either aimed at the gun loving share of the USA’s population (witness the kind of inventory the film’s heroes maintain at their homes); either that or it was made as some sort of a joke on their behalf, but somehow I suspect the first (and scary) option is the valid one here.
To add more to the negative, Shooter is as predictable and as full of genre clichés as a film could ever be. In many respects it’s a carbon copy of Rambo, the lone wolf betrayed by the authority with some sort of a conspiracy taking place behind the scenes and with things sorting themselves out only through our hero taking matters into his own hands. Well, in my opinion, the only conspiracy in Shooter is the one where we are being pushed at with so many films like this one as they come out of Hollywood’s production lines.
Worst scene: The vigilante style ending (I would spare you the details).
Technical assessment: Shooter has to be one of the worst takes on Blu-ray ever (or one of the very first to be made). The picture uses old MPG technology for compression and the sound uses Dolby Digital, rendering this Blu-ray to be not much more than a DVD with a higher bandwidth for picture information. Granted, the picture and the sound are generally good, but it all conspires to leaving you wanting. It's the way you would feel if you could only drive your Ferrari in reverse.
Overall: Granted, Shooter is entertaining; sadly, it’s also a very bad film. 2 out of 5 stars.