Shooter on DVD
Mark Wahlberg stars in this mostly nifty tale of political intrigue revolving around an apparent plot to assassinate the president of the United States. It's a little "First Blood" and a little "JFK" but in the end is all its own.
Wahlberg is Bob Lee Swagger, an American sharpshooter (he'd undoubtedly be called a sniper if he were with the enemy) who's so good he can use his rifle to emasculate a fly at ten miles' distance. Okay, maybe not that good, but he's definitely the top of his field. But a mission gone wrong, apparently, leaves him with a dead partner and a bad taste in his mouth that leads to him relocating to Wyoming after his discharge, living as far away from real human civilization as he can get without moving to San Francisco.
Then along comes Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover), a Medal of Honor winner who plays on Swagger's patriotism to enlist his help in cracking the assassination plot. They need him to figure out from where the attempt will come, which he does. Apparently.
Then it all goes wrong. Turns out Swagger's merely a patsy and he's just been framed for the attempt that, while it missed the president, didn't miss another dignitary. So Swagger finds himself on the run with the combined might of the U.S. government bearing down on him.
But he's a quality guy made of the stuff that made America great, so rather than run away, he goes underground to clear his name. And from here the movie's plot takes several serpentine turns, with some delicious twists that will leave you wondering just who's good (and is "good" a relative term?), and who the bad guys really are.
It's a nifty story and for the most part the film makers manage to avoid any real political commentary such as often finds its way into left wing Hollywood productions of this ilk. There are a couple of typical snide remarks – for example there's the requisite mention about "torture" at Abu Graib – but on the whole the movie stays apolitical, and that helps make it enjoyable to an audience broader than just lefties or righties.
It's a pretty neat yarn and within its parameters it's quite believably told. It isn't perfect, of course. For example, one of the main character undergoes a metamorphosis that, while not totally unbelievable, is too convenient and happens far too quickly.
Wahlberg does a good job as the hunter being hunted, and he gets good support from Michael Pena as an FBI agent who sees more to the assassination attempt than the powers that be will admit. And Kate Mara, as the widow of his former partner, brings more than a decorative presence to her role.
It was great to see Ned Beatty again, one of the great character actors. Here he's a tough senator and, as always, he's completely believable.
There's plenty of action, lots of violence, and if you like to see things blowing up real good, this just may be your flick.
Our DVD was presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and the picture quality is top notch. Colors are rich and deep and the image is razor sharp.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and it's okay. We'd say it's excellent but for the fact that they seem to have forgotten to invoke the .1 low frequency effects channel – and in a movie that blows up as much stuff as this one does, that's nearly a fatal flaw! And there's no dts choice, either, which is always a bring down for audiophiles.
Extras include a commentary by director Antoine Fuqua, seven deleted scenes and "Survival of the Fittest", a "Making of" feature. There's also the featurette "Independence Hall."
Shooter, from Paramount Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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