3 Stars

Fresh off his Oscar nomination for “The Departed”, Marky Mark Wahlberg stars as a retired Marine sharpshooter framed for the attempted assassination of the president, and the successful one of an African Bishop in Antoine Fuqua’s new film, “Shooter.”

Bob Lee Swagger (Wahberg) lives in self-imposed exile in the Colorado mountains three years after a botched sharp shooting mission that resulted in the death of his spotter, Donnie Fenn. Col. Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) goes to great lengths to find him, as Swagger is one of the very few sharpshooters who would be able to pull off a similar shot they believe will be used to kill the president (over a mile away). After being set up for the assassination attempt, Swagger’s only allies, disgraced FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Peña) and Fenn’s widow Sarah (Kate Mara), help him track down the organizers of the conspiracy and bring them to justice.

The film comes off as the second coming of “Die Hard.” Action flick centering on one man against the world with a somewhat interesting back story. And in that, it’s derivative. It’s an intriguing concept, and done well, but it’s the type of movie we’ve seen before in the action genre. It’s one of those flicks that you’ll be torn over. It’s good, but it’s familiar.

This film needed Wahlberg more than Wahlberg need this film. He can act, as he’s proven time and time again since “Boogie Nights” in 1997, right up to his aforementioned performance in “The Departed” last year. And he gives a fine performance in this flick. But he needs some career guidance. I mean really, Marky Mark, you’re so much better than this. You should do another comedy, like “I Heart Huckabees.”

Peña (“Crash”, “World Trade Center”) continues his rise to prominence as an actor. This isn’t exactly the best film to show off his talent, nor does he get to. But his talent is noticeable and being in a high profile flick will only help his career as a relatively unknown actor.

Fuqua became sort of a cinematic darling in 2001. He directed Denzel Washington to his Best Actor win in “Training Day” and the critics set the bar high for his next cinematic efforts. But unfortunately he fell victim to what I call the Shyamalan Syndrome. Fantastic film for their first major effort to get critical acclaim, and expectations were set too high and the following films, while good in their own right, just didn’t match those expectations. He can craft a good flick, but he has yet to really find his own voice, or stand out in anyway. But I’m rooting for him to do so.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad film that was given to us. It’s enjoyable, an entertaining way to spend a couple ours at the theatre. But you could really watch any other action flick and not really be missing out. It’s an ultimately forgettable movie that has little consequence. I can recommend it as a nice way to escape, but for serious cinema, you should look elsewhere.


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