If First Blood is your favourite film and you’ve never seen a conspiracy thriller, rent Shooter. It’s a man-on-a-mission movie competently vacuum-packed by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. And besides, you’ll have roughly the same tastes as ex-marine marksman Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), who would have saved himself a lot of bother if he’d seen either JFK or The Parallax View before agreeing to help old soldier Danny Glover figure out how to foil a presidential assassination. Swagger couldn’t be more of a patsy if he had bouffant hair and sang ‘I’m crazy for loving you…’ Before you can say Day Of The Jackass, he’s fitted up and on the run…

But there’s more in the balance than survival, corporate corruption or world peace: there’s its leading man’s career. Based on the first of novelist Stephen Hunter’s Swagger trilogy, Shooter was meant to be Wahlberg’s Bourne; an enjoyable franchise to bankroll edgier choices. But it underperformed at the box office and Fuqua doesn’t draw the best from his star. Few actors can by turns be so bland (The Italian Job, Four Brothers) and so brilliant (I Heart Huckabees, The Departed) and his one-note, sternly patriotic turn is sadly in tune with the humourless whole here.

You have to hope his paydays and interesting roles converge soon, perhaps with his next movies – Shyamalan’s The Happening and James Gray’s We Own The Night – so Swagger can stay retired.


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