Review: You Could Do Worse Than Shooter, But You Could Do Better Too
by Dave Minkus
March 23, 2007
Shooter really is a difficult film to review. Most run-of-the-mill action movies are never made to actually be reviewed by critics. Shooter is no different.
Shooter is the story of a secluded ex-marine sniper (Mark Wahlberg) talked back into government work in order to try and stop a plot to kill the president. When he gets double-crossed (I normally wouldn't give away that big a spoiler, but it's in the trailer), he goes after the SOB's who set him up. When it comes down to it, this film is an attempt to see if Mark Wahlberg can carry an action film by himself. While I think he is a very capable actor who can anchor any movie he could possibly feel like doing, this was not the right film to start with.
The problem with Shooter is that you feel like you've seen it all before. Parts of it feel like Enemy of the State. Other parts feel like the French Connection. Instead of really coming up with something new, the filmmakers borrow conventions from every other successful action film and put them in here, just not as well.
Instead of just calling it an action rip-off, I need to point out the high points that kept my score as high as it was. Mark Wahlberg was great. While it felt like the other actors who defined the term "phoned in performance" (Ned Beatty and Danny Glover, I'm looking at you), Wahlberg sells his character. When he's sniping people or planning how to take people down, you believe in his character. Everyone else really comes across as stale actors. It's like Wahlberg is acting in a completely different movie than the rest of the cast, and that really is the downfall of the film.
When it comes down to it, if you want to see stuff blow up and Mark Wahlberg shoot people, by all means catch this at a matinee. Like I said at the beginning, this is the crowd the film is reaching out too. It really doesn't concern itself with critical reaction, and it really doesn't need to. Shooter isn't trying to say a message. It isn't about the evils of war. It's about a guy who got screwed over getting revenge. It just didn't tell that story as well as many previous films telling similar stories.