If Shooter had starred Matt Damon and Denzel Washington, it would have been an excellent film. Starring instead Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover, it’s merely adequate.

Entertaining enough to recommend, of course – but recommend in an “if it’s on TV, record it” way, rather than a rush-out-and-buy-it-immediately way.

Shooter is based on a novel called Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, directed by Training Day‘s Antoine Fuqua. It’s the tale of a retired military man who is called back from his isolated, rural existence for one last mission. So far, so Commando, and that’s what it feels like a lot of the time. Commando‘s plot beefed up with a middling episode of Spooks, and some funky MacGuyver DIY antics.

Bob Swagger (Wahlberg) is a marine sniper who is one of the few who can shoot a target from a mile away. Colonel Johnson (Glover) coaxes him away from his log cabin to prevent an assassination attempt on the president: he needs Swagger’s expertise on the line of “if you were going to shoot someone from a mile away, how would you do it?”

Swagger scouts locations, pinpoints the shot he would take, and then tells the gathered agents where they should look to capture the would-be assassin.

At which point, predictably, it all goes awry.

The whole film is rather predictable, as Swagger goes on the run and fights to clear his name from a high level framing and cover-up. Predictably, there’s a rookie FBI agent (Michael Peña) who believes him, and also predictably, he falls for the widow (Kate Mara) of his old army pal, to whom he turns for help.

Predictably, each has lots of rare and extremely useful skills to help him survive. He pulls together household objects to tend to his gunshot wounds, and Sarah (Mara) happens to have trained as a nurse. Then he pulls together some more household objects to make DIY weapons to enact the full Commando-style assault to rescue the girl and kill the bad guy.

It’s not a great film by any stretch, and though there’s a satsifying number of explosions and stunt-work, it’s nowhere near in the class of A-grade action films. What it does achieve is to be thoroughly diverting. It holds the attention for its running time and is amusing and entertaining enough to feel like time well spent. I’d cheerfully watch it again, at any rate.


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