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Shooter

Film Three Stars

I was really excited about seeing this film because of Antoine Fuqua. Replacement Killers, Training Day and Tears of the Sun (Filmstalker review) all had me hooked and he has bags of style. Style that appeared in the opening shots of Shooter as the camera swept along the course of a river speeding up a mountain towards two well hidden figures.

That style and cinematography is apparent throughout the film as the camera moves continually through scenes and helps to keep the pace moving and the suspense high. Fuqua also does a great job of filming action scenes and not having them fizzle out but rather keeping that tension going through the whole scene and stretching it out.

Shooter.jpgOnce again he, and the story, hints at moments and storylines but doesn't feel the need to totally follow them through and spell them out for the audience. This can be seen in the emotional scenes between Swagger and Fenn, as well as the plot thread between Fenn and Payne.

Although I can't explain them fully without revealing the plot, the reason why Payne is the antagonist towards Fenn is hinted at and then left until later, something which Fuqua has done in previous films. Rather than sacrifice the pace or the focus on the main plot he restricts the diversion to a few moments and turns back to the main story.

It's something I really do like about Fuqua, he may humour the Hollywood moment, but he doesn't seem to pander to it.

Before the review, let me just thank Edinburgh's Ocean Vue Cinema once again for helping Filmstalker in these reviews. They've got an excellent cinema there, you can park for free too.

Shooter is about Bob Lee Swagger played by Mark Wahlberg, a man who was one of the best snipers in the US Army, recruited for secret operations in countries where an American presence shouldn't really be. On one such mission his spotter, a snipers partner who assists with target sighting and ranging, is killed and his support team pull out leaving him to fend for himself.

He, of course, retires and heads deep into the woods to spend the rest of his life alone. That's where Colonel Isaac Johnson, played by Danny Glover, appears to present him with an offer. Johnson is part of the CIA and they've uncovered a plot to assassinate the President from over a mile off, and Swagger is the only one who could setup the shot.

So he gets drafted in to scout the locations, choose the best place, and help them track down where the sniper really is. Except it's a set up, and he's actually been telling the team where the best place would be to make the shot, and immediately they line up Swagger as the sniper.

The story is good until it comes to the ending, where it seems to leap in its timeline and plot lines are just dropped or resolved before your eyes from seemingly an unsolvable position.

I found myself questioning what had just happened, or rather what hadn't, and why some characters were even there. It did seem as though there is a very different cut to the ending of the film, but from the moment the plot starts to get wrapped up that Hollywood has stepped up to change the outcomes of the plot lines.

Thankfully though you aren't left with this as the sour and confusing aftertaste of the film, there's another few scenes that wrap the story up well and give us the feeling of what this film has been all about.

Wahlberg is, well, Wahlberg. He's a good actor but he's no character actor and he does play the same person with almost every film. However this character fits well here and he does a good job, despite his breathy uttering of his lines.

Glover was a big surprise here, first because he does a morally questionable guy so well, but mainly for his health. His speech is slurred and whistling, and at times distracting from the performance, and at times it looks as though he also has problems walking. It's a real shame and I'm not sure what has happened to him, but at times he is very strong and gives a good performance.

Combining Glover's speech with Wahlberg's mumblings you can find that the dialogue is difficult to follow at times.

Michael Peña gives a good performance, although not his best, as the rookie FBI agent who struggles with toeing the accepted company line, finding something more to the official story of Swagger as the sniper. He has to choose an allegiance within the film and for me that moment seemed quite underplayed and his decision is made without a much of a moralistic weight on his shoulders.

A surprise for me was that of Rhona Mitra who seems to be rising in her career. From the early start as the model of Lara Croft, through various small roles more valued for her looks, she's now starting to see some payback with a number of larger roles. With the performance we see here I would seriously expect her to have a fair number of leads in the coming years.

Overall this is a good film which shows some great camera work and cinematography, but it doesn't live up to some of Fuqua's previous works. There's a good story here with strong tension and suspense, but it seems to falter near the end and leaves the characters tainted after all the good work that's been put in to build them up. Good performances and a great looking film can't make up for the poor aspects of the ending.


Trailers
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The Reaping
Another new cut of this trailer and it's still surprising how good the film looks from everything we've seen and yet how negative the reviews are coming from critics.

Alpha Dog
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Oh lord. This looked amazing on the big screen and I couldn't believe how great it looked, and to see the robots fighting on such a huge scale was fantastic. Knock Bay all you want but he can deliver action films bigger and better than anyone else, and here it looks like he does just that once again.


Edinburgh's Ocean Vue Cinema
UK IMDB Film Details





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Comments

Thanks Richard.

I was torn whether to skip it, but since you gave it a favorable review, and I like Wahlberg, I will definitely see it this week but not before I've seen The Lives of Others - you're watching that too arent you?

Well I'm hoping to, there are a couple I'm trying to catch this week.

I really didn't like "Shooter" and it failed to even entertain me - except for the scenes on the mountain - not bad.

There was a sense of the entertainment washing over me, although it did still entertain at some key scenes. Not Fuqua's greatest that's for sure.

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