Saturday, March 24, 2007

Movie Review: Shooter

Shooter is one of the more bizarre movies I've ever seen. It stars Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger, a Marine sniper who gets shafted by his government during a mission in Ethiopia and then retires and becomes a reclusive weirdo living in a quaint cabin in the mountains and grows a crappy ponytail and half-arsed beard and reads the 9/11 Commission Report and checks in daily with political blogs to find out what horribleness is going down in the world that day and whose only companion is a trusty mutt* who retrieves beer from the fridge and drinks it out of the bottle. He's tracked down by the same government that shafted him to help thwart a presidential assassination and naturally he's hesitant, but then decides it's the right thing to do and is immediately shafted again and framed for an assassination (not the President's).

That's the first 10 minutes of the movie. A bit dorky, but this is an action movie and I'm prepared to buy it. During the remaining 114 butt-numbing minutes, however, the movie develops multiple personality disorder and can't decide whether it's really an action movie or if it wants to be a political drama, a buddy movie, a road-trip movie, or a conspiracy-thriller. That's what makes it bad. What makes it completely bizarre is that we manage to get all of the cliches of red-blooded action movies -- Marines, shoot-outs, explosions, car chases, karate chops, helicopter battles, American flags, guns, and hot babes -- all while being fed hardcore Leftist propaganda. First bad sign of the movie: a portrait of Reagan hanging on the office wall of a character who has already been established as suspicious. Next bad sign: Danny Glover. Then we get, in no particular order: the Iraq war is all about the oil; WMDs were lies; the Abu Ghraib "tortures"; our "government of thugs"; it's all about "the haves vs. the have-nots"; one of the heroes (an FBI agent) wearing a Che t-shirt; and all the usual blather about the evil U.S. government interfering in the world, etc.

The movie does its darndest to assure us that all of this is ultra-patriotic. There are American flags all over the place -- in Swagger's cabin, in/on various buildings, on another character's bedside table, and the giant flag waving slo-mo in the wind while Swagger walks determinedly in slo-mo in front of it. We also get the tragic silhouette of our poor, maligned veteran while militaresque trumpets play sadly in the background. And lest you be worried that Swagger has gone soft during his reclusiveness, we get the obligatory scene where he sets off an enormous explosion in the background while walking away in slo-mo and not even flinching because he's such a hard-boiled bad-ass.

*** spoilers ahead, but you won't want to pay $8.50 to see this dreck so read on ***

The movie takes us all over the country, we get a few scenes where it looks like Swagger will get a love interest though not much seems to pan out, he accretes a buddy in the form of a sharp-eyed-but-wet-behind-the-ears rogue FBI agent, and then toward the end when after Swagger is vindicated and, surprise, the bad guy is finally revealed as being the bad guy and it looks like he's going to get away with it ("I win, Swagger, you lose. Again.") and the one and only good guy in the government tells Swagger there's nothing they can do about it because all the crap he did was on another continent and this isn't the Wild West and you can't just shoot 'em up even when they deserve to be shot up and this naturally puts a bug up Swagger's backside and off he goes to hunt down the bad guys down at their bad guy lair in the woods. But here comes the really disturbing part. After Swagger's dispatched all of the bad guys except one, a fat old corrupt senator played by Ned Beatty (who is supposed to resemble Cheney, I think), old fatso makes one last desperate plea for his life before Swagger plugs him and says "But I'm a United States Senator!" to which Swagger replies "Exactly" and blows his head off. Then Swagger hides the evidence and gets in his hot-rod and drives off into the mountains on a lonely stretch of highway with the love interest by his side afterall.

I'm stumped by this movie. Is it just bait-and-switch or are we seeing something much more sinister here? It seems to be saying that it's patriotic to turn on your government, which is just a bunch of thieving imperialistic oil-hungry thugs who will stop at nothing and shaft everyone who gets in their way. To be sure, there are legitimate concerns about our current government, but the movie seems to be implying that democracy has had its day and murder is the only recourse. One hopes that this piece of crap represents an isolated and incredibly stupid experiment to cross-breed the Steven Seagal genre with Marxist activism. And, fortunately, we have 300 to distract the hordes of impressionable young men who might otherwise be swayed by this awesome new idea. In a few months when this turkey is available on DVD, I'm going to suggest it as a target for these guys.

* Sadly, the dog doesn't make it to the end of the movie. To show you how heartless the bad guys are we learn that the dog is killed while Swagger is away from his cabin, but this is sensitively handled off-screen, because Lord knows after seeing a hundred guys get their heads blown off like exploding watermelons you want to be assured that the movie does not condone cruelty to animals.


Blogger carnaby said...

I'm not gonna read your spoilers on account of I wanna see the dreck.

How about the guns and the shooting? Were they up to par, even if the story/politics weren't?

3/25/2007 8:14 AM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Yeah, the guns and shooting were good. Doesn't make up for the leftie twaddle, though.

3/25/2007 11:56 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I read the original book. I was pretty sure Hollyweird would ruin it. Thanks for letting me know in advance to ignore it.

3/26/2007 6:37 AM  

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