When I think of Mark Wahlberg’s movies, a few instantly come to mind. Of course, there’s “Boogie Nights” in which he portrayed a 70’s porn star (and still one of the riskiest moves by a young actor to date). There’s “Fear”, one of his early big-budget movies and more recent films like “The Italian Job” and last year’s winner for Best Picture “The Departed”. With his newest film, “Shooter”, it’s a test to see if Wahlberg can carry a film on his own or if he always needs a supporting cast to make the movie a success. As it turns out, I think he pulls off the lead very well here and I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed “Shooter”. Jonathan Lemkin’s screenplay keeps the two hour movie moving at a brisk pace and what could have easily been a cliche-fest isn’t. And aside from the appearance of Danny Glover (who sounds like he has some sort of speech impediment these days), the cast is composed of some fairly unknown actors.
Wahlberg plays Bob Lee Swaggar, a once military sniper who has since gone into exile after his friend and partner is killed in the line of duty. Swaggar is looked up by the FBI and told his services are needed to help thwart an assassination attempt on the President of the United States. After some initial trepidation, he accepts the job and decides to help out his country. As fate would have it, the attempt ends up killing an archbishop and Swaggar is framed for the assassination attempt on the President. Having nowhere to run or hide, he manages to escape and enlist the help of Sarah (Kate Mara), his partner’s ex-girlfriend (and who spends the majority of the film in skimpy clothes). The other factor here is FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Pena). He’s not quite convinced that Swaggar did what everyone said he did. Will Swaggar escape and be able to live a normal life or will the FBI literally get away with murder?
Something about “Shooter” really spoke to me. I’m sure there are parts of it that are way too true and that the US Government has probably done some pretty nasty things under the guise of “Freedom”. However, I always love to root for the underdog. I compared a lot of this movie to “The Fugitive” in which Harrison Ford’s character had everything against him and he still managed to outwit the powers that be. Naturally some of the action is a little over the top, a few too many things seem to blow up near the end of the film but for a movie like this, it’s pretty much expected. For those interested in a well-made film, I’d recommend this. Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) obviously knows how to make a good film and he’s done it again with “Shooter”.
Video: How does it look?
I remember watching the intial standard DVD release of “Shooter” about six weeks ago and was wondering how the Blu-ray (or HD DVD) version would stack up visually. The movie didn’t look that bad in standard definition but once you compare a standard DVD and the HD version, you can really see what you’re missing (pun totally intended). This Blu-ray version is better on every level: the picture is sharper and more defined, there’s no edge enhancement, even the colors seem more rich and saturated. There was and still is nothing wrong with the standard DVD but when compared to the HD version, there’s no question about which version should be on your shelf.
Audio: How does it sound?
In some cases, the Blu-ray or HD DVD version will have a better soundtrack but this Blu-ray seems to have the same Dolby Digital 5.1 track found on the standard DVD. That said, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack runs amok during the ending scenes and does a pretty good job at reproducing some of the more discrete effects throughout. Dialogue is a bit muddy, however. That or Mark Wahlberg has taken to mumbling some of his lines. I don’t really think it’s a fault of the audio, but whatever it lacked, was certainly made up for in the battle scenes. Surrounds kick in at the appropriate times to add that extra “Oomph” and it works to great effect. This is a great-sounding movie.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This Blu-ray release features the same supplements as the standard DVD but they’re all presented in High Definition, which is certainly a nice touch. First off is a commentary track by director Antoine Fuqua who gives us a pretty in-depth track full of facts, the cast and some details on the shoot (no pun intended). True fans of the film will want to give it a listen. Next up are seven deleted scenes which don’t add a whole lot to the film, most are extended scenes of what was already in the movie. At two plus hours, the movie was long enough already and most likely these were removed for the time factor. There’s the obligatory “The Making of “Shooter” which has some interviews with the cast and crew, etc. More interesting is the featurette on “Independence Hall” in Philadelphia. We get a first-hand look at the new Hall and some facts about the building, the area and the history of this integral part of the film. Trailers for “Black Snake Moan” and “Zodiac” are also included, but none for this movie.