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Mark Wahlberg and Michael Pena in Shooter

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Director Antoine Fuqua; Survival Of The Fittest: The Making Of Shooter; Independence Hall; Deleted Scenes.

POLITICAL potshots fly as fast as bullets in Shooter, a gritty action thriller that’s best treated as a dumb but guilty pleasure.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a retired Army sniper who is tempted back into action to help the government prevent a possible presidential assassination.

When he’s framed for the ensuing “hit” and left for dead, Swagger is forced to go on the rampage in the urban jungle in order to expose the conspiracy and clear his name.

Director Antoine Fuqua and super-producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (of Transformers/Prison Break fame) clearly envisage Shooter as a potential franchise in the mould of the Jason Bourne series (given that it’s based on one of several books from Stephen Hunter).

But if they’d taken half as much care with the script as they did with the action set pieces then we could have been talking about a truly special experience, rather than something merely good.

At several points, however, Shooter contains plot holes large enough to fire one of Swagger’s bullets clean through.

The way in which Swagger is set up and framed is poorly executed and makes no real sense, while several of the plot twists require a large suspension of disbelief.

The political sniping could also be viewed as pretentious by some, given the numerous asides at the current US administration.

Fortunately, however, the film does have the good sense to keep such moments fairly tongue in cheek, while littering proceedings with some fairly impressive action sequences.

Swagger’s escape from the set-up is very exciting as are several of the subsequent showdowns.

Wahlberg, too, convinces in the lead role and does enough with the character to suggest there’s plenty more legs in the franchise yet, while Danny Glover and Ned Beatty get to chew the scenery in typically solid fashion as the bad guys.

Emerging star Michael Pena (of Crash and World Trade Center fame) also adds some nice comic touches to his role as an FBI agent who helps Swagger, and Kate Mara works hard to ensure her heroine doesn’t ever get reduced to a damsel-in-distress.

As Friday night crowdpleasers go, Shooter should comfortably hit the target for those who like their action hard and fast-moving.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 10mins