I saw Shooter on Saturday, and let me just tell you, this movie was made for me.
Now, I should lay a few things out on the table. First of all, Mark Wahlberg can do no wrong by me. As we speak I’m updating my Netflix queue to better reflect his career. If there were one famous straight man in the world who wanted me to have his babies, Marky Mark would be the one I’d be the most inclined to jump on. That said, I’m also a huge action movie fan. I mean huge. This is a genre of films better known in my family as the “daddy movie”–the kind my father would rent, in binges, when the rest of us were out of town. It’s pretty hard for a movie to be too violent for me to enjoy. (Sin City falls into this category, for reasons I’ve yet to completely understand.) Moreover, throw in some car chases and explosions, and I’m pretty much set. I mean, I rented The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift utterly without shame. (In my defense, a big draw for me was Lucas Black, my favorite child TV star turned actual grownup actor. The man has a gorgeous drawl.) So it was already gonna be pretty hard for this movie to disappoint me. (Review and spoilers after the jump.)
I typed this once, but I’m too dumb to use wordpress, so I lost this second half and had to type it all over again. Sigh.
Now, there are some predictable bits, and I’m not just referring to the fact that every blurb about the movie references a plot to frame Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) for an assassination attempt. Among the things I predicted:
1. We would not get an adequate explanation for how Swagger got out of Africa after his military superiors hung him and his spotter out to dry.
2. The guy in the wheelchair would turn out to be a bad, bad man.
3. They were probably gonna shoot Swagger’s dog.
4. Romance! (Props for not drawing it out, or bringing it on nearly as early as I expected.)
And I am totally clueless when it comes to movies. Really, I’m any suspense moviemaker’s dream: easily entertained, totally willing to suspend my disbelief, and generally slack-jawed. So when I can call something, it is pretty damn obvious.
That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Why?
1. Well, Mark Wahlberg.
2. Certain dialogue. The clear winner: “You don’t understand. These men killed my dog.” But a close second: “Man, what assholes came up with this?” Oh, and there’s always “I mean, we work for the federal government. We’re not that fast.”
3. Michael Pena. I was really taken with him in Crash (I have mixed feelings about the rest of the movie) and he was really solid here, too.
4. Gratuitous, totally self-aware hero shots. You can only see so many slow-mo shots of Mark Wahlberg running with the sun shining over his shoulder before it becomes really, really funny.
5. Swagger is a complex, interesting character. He admits that he has a “patriotism button” that can be pressed, yet he’s not proud of it. He has a complicated set of values.
6. There’s some commentary on US foreign policy that doesn’t just flat out call us awesome.
7. The one character whose death is at all drawn out? Elias Koteas as the creepy guy who uses sexual violence to coerce information from Kate Mara (romance!) in a really really uncomfortable sequence that I wish hadn’t been in the movie. But since it was, it’s kind of nice that he got his thumb shot off. And then his arm. And then took a few in the chest from the woman he violated.
8. Uh, explosions? Car chases? Long range head shots?
[Update: how could I forget this line?! “I’m gonna do all these whip-its and pass out. Good luck!”]