In typical sniper-assassin style, our killer is a man of three names. Marky Mark is Bob Lee Swagger, and no he also isn’t a used car salesman as the name might suggest. He is, however, an ex-Marine Scout Sniper and current loner badboy. Having forsaken mankind for clean mountain air, a canine companion, and a euro-trash pony-tail, after his superiors deemed him and his best human friend and spotter, Donnie, expendable and leaving them to die behind enemy lines. Needless to say, Bobby Lee has issues with the government. A big part of it probably stemming from the fact that Donnie ate dirt and Bobby barely made it out, with no apology or recognition to welcome him home for a job well done.
Three years later… Bobby is still one of the few men capable of hitting and eviscerating a target from a mile away, and for this reason, is sought out by Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny ‘Murtaugh’ Glover) and his team of government stooges for recruitment in stopping an assassination attempt on the President. This turns out to be a set-up, that Bobby must spend the rest of the film shooting his way out of. He’s injured, on the run and forced to use the very training that could well be his undoing. It’s kind of like Rambo in FIRST BLOOD, only Swagger isn’t batshit insane.
Along the way he teams-up with FBI Agent Nick Memphis (Michael Peña), hooks up with his dead buddy’s widow, Sarah Fenn (Kate Mara, NICE) and kills a bunch of guys with knives, garrote-wire, pipe-bombs, hand-to-hand combat and of course, GUNS. Really BIG ONES!
The Reason To Watch It:
I’ll start by saying, I’m not really a big fan of director Antoine Fuqua’s work, though I will admit, I’ve enjoyed most everything I’ve watched of his. And SHOOTER is probably my favorite. Taking the almost always poorly done, ‘Government Conspiracy Thriller’ and pumping it full of bullet holes and explosions, seemed (at least to me) like a perfect jump-start the sub-genre badly needed. Think, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, with sweaty man-muscles, a near 50 man body-count and a shirtless southern knockout totting a shotgun.
The action is easily the best I’ve seen from Fuqua. He finally seems to get it. THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS couldn’t compare to its Hong Kong inspirations, KING ARTHUR was a neutered mess and TEARS OF THE SUN was just your average back and forth war violence and mud covered crying. But SHOOTER has some top notch murder/death/kills and running away from large balls of flaming wreckage.
The story isn’t exactly complex for a conspiracy driven plotline, but it never really felt like it had to be. It’s rare to see a perfect blend of intrigue and action, and this one comes pretty close. Also, I never felt that it was treating me like an idiot (eg, Wesley Snipes’s DTV films), or like I had to start taking notes (eg, Steven Seagal’s DTV films).
SHOOTER has that general ‘80’s style tone of giving just enough plot between the action sequences to get the audience complacently on to the next, and with little to no pandering. The ending especially took me back, with a right-wing cue straight outta the Regan-era, the film delivers a vigilante’s wet dream finale that really satisfied my film-watching bloodlust.
The best part about the flick is that it delivers exactly what the title suggests it should.
Watch A Guy Shoot A Bunch Of Other Guys In The Head With A Sniper Rifle.
I for one would definitely rather watch Bobby Lee ANY day over Jason Bourne. Also, Action Film Hottie Rhona Mitra, plays a supporting role as a hot FBI know-it-all. Bonus.
It might just be my hearing, but I had trouble understanding what Wahlberg and Glover were saying half the time. Danny’s always had kind of a mush-mouth, but now he seems to have a bit of a lisp as well. I’m not saying, “he’s too old for this shit”, but he might be getting close. And Marky’s egotistical Bostonian mumbling always makes me go ‘huh?’, but it’s nothing the subtitles couldn’t clear up in a jiffy and I’m sure most people won’t have any issues. Check it out.
Dolph Lundgren is Wax-Man, Defender Of Ear-Canal Lubricant! Just fucking with ya. Dolph Lundgren is Waxman, ex-special forces (aren’t they all?) and current employee with ‘The Agency’. His job? Political assassinations. The problem? Being a secretive covert government organization, ‘The Agency’ doesn’t take to well to on-the-job fuck ups and Waxman has himself one.
Failing to pull the SILENT TRIGGER on a woman holding a child, Waxman and his rookie spotter, Clegg (Gina Bellman) become ‘The Agency’s’ prime targets. But, with Clegg’s help, Waxman waxes the mother fuckers and makes it out of the country to screw the pooch another day.
Jump ahead an undetermined amount of time later. Waxman is on the job again, this time on the top floor of an unfinished skyscraper, and wouldn’t you know it, Clegg is assigned as his spotter.
The duo set up shop and spend the night struggling with sexual tension, an unruly psychopathic rent-a-cop and their general mistrust in one another–it’s gonna be one hell-ova-night!
The Reason To Avoid It:
Even though the story barely has a plot, they still manage to make it confusing. Waxman messes up in the backstory by not taking a shot, and subsequently becomes the target–yet, he is somehow still taking jobs from ‘The Agency’ that wants him dead years later. It’s possible I missed some explanation, but I’m pretty sure this is never addressed.
But the main issue I have with this flick is that for 90% of it, they only show you the one side of being a sniper, the waiting. Wax and Clegg spend all of their scenes cautiously flirting and generally getting on my nerves. I, myself ended up just counting down to them cutting the shit and fucking it out. Which they do, SPOILER, but it’s nothing you’d really WANT to see anyways.
The waiting game is made worse by the fact that I found Gina Bellman (Clegg) fucking irritating. Her accent is bland and unplaceable and she never speaks with any inflection. It’s plausible she was simply as bored being there, as I was watching her, but I just don’t think she gave much of an effort.
CLEGG, NAMED AFTER HER MOTHER …’S FAVORITE DRAIN CLEANER
They try and spice the story up with flashbacks of the couple’s first mission, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the present day is a borefest. All except for this one fucking guy…
The worst/best/worst again thing about this film is the aforementioned psychopathic rent-a-cop. His name is O’Hara (Christopher Heyerdahl), he works the night shift guarding the skyscraper and he acts like a crazier version of the roided out female bodybuilder Vera de Milo, that Jim Carry played on IN LIVING COLOR. Making this extra creepy, they even sound alike.
He gets introduced out of the shadows as he puts a shotgun to his new partner’s head and questions him about the toppings of his pizza. At first you assume the guy is just a dickweed, but it keeps getting weirder. When Clegg shows up in disguise as a computer technician, he shows her to the elevator and mid-way up, tries to rape her. The only thing that they give you to explain this random behavior is that prior to her arrival he was gacking up lines of coke. Now, I’ve never done that dance, but I know people who have and they never mentioned an uncontrollable (<– keyword there) urge to sexually assault the nearest female.
Though, later on you do indeed discover that this guy has snapped like a fucking rubber band. As the night goes on he obsesses over Clegg and decides to kill her. How does he come to this decision? Why, his rubber-stamp quality spider tattoos tell him to. Yeah. And from there the sniper movie turns into a wacky horror film with Wax and Clegg being stocked by a skinny over-acting tattooed douche with a greasy mullet.
Now, what does any of this have to do with Waxman, his past discretions and his current mission? Nothing. O’Hara seems to be in the film for no other reason than to stir up the shit. It’s insanely unbelievable and annoying. I would have much preferred more flashbacks showing us more crazy missions that involved Wax and made him the honorable killer he is today.
In the end, the film does manage to get back on track and come full circle with a showdown on the top floor, but it was all too little too late. I think the director, (Russell Mulcahy, HIGHLANDER) just really likes abandoned skyscrapers and will helm any project that allows him to spend time filming in one. SILENT TRIGGER looks good, and the few action scenes present are well shot and feature plenty of bloody goodness, but they are so few and far between, it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble. Add to this the ridiculous sub-plot with senior psychopath and you just get a big old mess.
The film begins with an odd Enya-esque techno mix playing over a helicopter shot of a beach, images of bullets being inserted into a gun chamber, and various time-lapsed storm clouds. Weird though that is, it gave me a boner. Turns out this is what Waxman dreams about. Whether or not he is a total nutbar never comes into the equation though, as when he wakes up, we are quickly transported to him and Clegg on a job.
The mission involves Wax having to shoot some female political official, even though she ends up holding a baby when his window allows for the shot. Wax refuses and a team of mercs descend upon him to punish him for his insubordination. And I don’t mean, like a day later, it happens immediately. Thankfully for the viewer’s entertainment, Wax is good at improv and he quickly slaughters the lot of them, including blowing out the eye sockets of not one, but TWO helicopter pilots with his BFG.
This Bondian opening action sequence is top notch, but it’s bittersweet as the rest of the film doesn’t even come close to the level of awesomeness delivered within the first few minutes.
So, in closing, unless you’re a budding Dolph completest, like myself, I’d recommend only checking out the first few minutes and the last few minutes, or just skipping the thing all together. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever choose a Marky Mark flick, over a Dolph flick, but what can I say? Sometimes you ‘Feel It, Feel It’, and sometimes you don’t. In closing, if you feel like taking a break from your FPS of choice, but don’t want to stray too far, give SHOOTER a try–just please, don’t shoot your eye out.