Shooter

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Shooter
Review (7/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

I have to wonder what is in the water in Boston. Having recently reviewed a list of notable Bostonians, I was surprised to learn that Jack Lemmon, Geena Davis, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Donnie Wahlberg and Mark Wahlberg all hail from Beantown.

Boston native Mark Wahlberg is one actor who has succeeded against all odds. A one-time high school dropout, drug addict and juvenile delinquent, Wahlberg has managed to transcend his difficult beginnings and to literally dominate the entertainment industry.

It was 1990 when Mark Wahlberg made his first foray into the industry. Fresh from a stint in prison, Wahlberg (with the assistance of older brother Donnie) created the rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Their debut album, Music for the People, was an overnight success. His penchant for dropping his pants during stage performances led to a memorable campaign with Calvin Klein as an underwear model. He then segued to a respectable career as an actor, earning an Oscar nomination for The Departed. Most recently, he has been the executive producer of the wildly popular television series Entourage, which is loosely based upon his own experiences in Hollywood.

Mark Wahlberg has recently returned to the big screen with the release of his latest film, Shooter. Based upon Stephen Hunter's novel, Point of Impact, Shooter tells the story of Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg), a reclusive military-trained sniper who is drawn back into the fray by a threat to assassinate the American President. When he finds himself betrayed by the government he sought to aid, Swagger embarks upon a quest to bring the assassin to justice and to seek vengeance upon those who deceived him.

Shooter is directed by Antoine Fuqua, the director of Training Day, the critically acclaimed film that garnered an Oscar win for Denzel Washington and an Oscar nomination for Ethan Hawke. While Shooter fails to replicate its Oscar-worthy predecessor (in fact, all of Fuqua's subsequent efforts have paled in comparison to Training Day), it is an entertaining film.

For those of you seeking a film of nuances and insights, Shooter is not the film for you. It is, unapologetically, an action film. But it is not your typical intellectually challenged action film like, for example, Rambo. In the tradition of the Bourne Identity, it has a story, it has some fine acting and it has some great action scenes. Sure, the story is implausible, but it flows well and is interesting enough to keep the attention of the audience.

Shooter was a good film choice for Mark Wahlberg because it demonstrates that he can carry a film. He is an excellent actor who has delivered some outstanding supporting performances, but it is difficult to carry a film. His choices to date have not demonstrated that he is leading-man material. It is interesting to note that some roles that Wahlberg has accepted were initially declined by Matt Damon, another talented actor who has successfully elevated himself to leading-man status. If Wahlberg continues to choose films such as Shooter, he promises to follow in the footsteps of actors such as Damon and Nicolas Cage, instead of being a very talented actor who is relegated to ensemble casts and supporting roles like Chris Cooper or John C. Reilly.

One note to parents about this film, which is rated as 14A. I found this film to be graphically violent at times. As well, while there were no graphic sex scenes in the film, there was one bondage and implied rape scene that made me uncomfortable. To put it in context, watching the film was the equivalent of watching an episode of the Sopranos. As a parent, I am not sure that I would be comfortable permitting a child under the age of at least 16 to view this film.

Shooter is a good choice for those who appreciate the action film genre. While it is a little less polished than the ?Bourne? film franchise, it is better than your average action film and promises to provide an entertaining evening at the theater.

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