Swiftly and aggressively entertaining at its best moments, thoroughly (aggressively) boring at its worst, the new action flick Shooter feels like it fell right out of the 1980s. Jettison the handful of offhand references to current events (like 9/11 and other violent incursions) and you're looking at a screenplay that Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis would have climbed all over. When director Antoine Fuqua keeps his lenses focused firmly on the action, Shooter is quite a bit of tough, gritty fun. It's just that all the endless story deviations and lethargic plot contortions start to grate on the nerves after a little while.
Based on the novel Point of Impact (by Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Stephen Hunter), Shooter is a blend of The Fugitive and In the Line of Fire -- with one amusingly outrageous portion of Cliffhanger thrown in because, hey, blood looks really cool when it's splattered all over virgin snow. Our hero is Bob Lee Swagger (as played by Mark Wahlberg and yes I said Swagger), the undisputed world's champ when it comes to killing enemies by way of military sniper rifle. Think you've got mad Halo skills when you find that sniper gun? Please. Bob Lee Swagger can hit a tin can from over a mile away -- and pet his dog at the same time. So when a shadowy government man (Danny Glover) shows up at Swagger's isolated cabin with his evil henchman (Elias Koteas) in tow, you'd think Bob Lee would know better than to accept their proposal -- to "fake" a presidential assassination in order to help "prevent" a presidential assassination -- but he doesn't.