Shooter (2007 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antoine Fuqua|
|Produced by||Lorenzo di Bonaventura|
|Screenplay by||Jonathan Lemkin|
|Based on||Point of Impact|
by Stephen Hunter
|Music by||Mark Mancina|
|Cinematography||Peter Menzies Jr.|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$95.7 million|
Shooter is a 2007 American conspiracy action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua based on the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter. The film follows Force Recon veteran Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), who is framed for murder by a rogue secret private military company unit. The film also stars Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Levon Helm, and Ned Beatty and was released in the United States on March 23, 2007.
Bob Lee Swagger reluctantly leaves a self-imposed exile at the request of Colonel Isaac Johnson, who appeals to him to help track down an assassin who is planning to shoot the president. Johnson gives him a list of three cities where the President is scheduled to visit, and Swagger assesses a site in Philadelphia as the most likely. This turns out to be a set-up; while Swagger is working with Johnson's agents to find the rumored assassin, the Ethiopian archbishop is shot instead while standing next to the president. Swagger is then shot by a police officer but manages to escape. The agents tell the police that Swagger is the shooter, and a manhunt ensues. He encounters a rookie FBI special agent, Nick Memphis, disarms him, and steals his car.
After his escape, Swagger takes refuge with Sarah Fenn, widow of his late spotter and close friend, killed years before in a mission in Africa. He later convinces her to help him contact Memphis with information on the conspiracy. Memphis is blamed for Swagger's escape and is informed that he will face disciplinary review but argues that, given Swagger's training and experience, it is surprising that the president survived and the archbishop standing several feet away was killed. He independently learns that Swagger may have been framed for the assassination and is further made suspicious when he learns that the officer that shot Swagger was himself shot dead just hours later in a mugging.
When the agents realize their secret is compromised, they kidnap Memphis and attempt to stage his suicide. Swagger tails them and kills the captors. The two then join forces and visit a firearms expert who provides information on the FBI's ballistics report and a short list of people capable of taking a shot from a distance of one mile or more. Armed with this, they plot to capture the ex-sniper who they think is the real assassin. Once they find him, he commits suicide after revealing that the archbishop was actually the real target and was murdered to prevent him revealing U.S. involvement in the massacre of an Eritrean village. The massacre was carried out on behalf of a consortium of American corporate oil interests headed by corrupt Senator Charles Meachum. Swagger records the ex-sniper's confession of his involvement in the African massacre and then, with Memphis' assistance, escapes from an ambush by mercenaries.
Meanwhile, other rogue mercenaries have kidnapped Sarah to lure Swagger out of hiding. With his new evidence and cat and mouse strategy, Swagger and Memphis are able to rescue her when Colonel Johnson and Senator Meachum arrange a meeting to exchange their hostage for the evidence of their wrongdoing. The Senator is allowed to escape, while Swagger and Memphis surrender to the FBI.
Later, Swagger is brought before U.S. Attorney General Russert and the FBI director in a closed-door meeting with Colonel Johnson, Memphis, and Sarah also present. Swagger quickly clears his name by loading a round into his rifle (which is there as evidence since it was supposedly used in the killing), aims it at the Colonel and pulls the trigger—which fails to fire. Swagger explains that every time he leaves his house, he removes the firing pins from all his guns, replacing them with slightly shorter ones, thus rendering them inoperable until he returns. Although Swagger is exonerated, Colonel Johnson cannot be charged with his crime as the Eritrean massacre was outside American legal jurisdiction. The attorney general tells Swagger that he himself must abide by the law: "It's not the Wild West where you can clean up the streets with a gun, even though sometimes that's exactly what's needed." Russert then orders Swagger released and exonerates him of all charges.
Afterwards, as Johnson and Senator Meachum plan their next move, Swagger breaks in and kills both conspirators, arranging for the house to blow up as if by accident. In a final scene, he drives away with Sarah.
- Mark Wahlberg as Gunnery Sergeant Bob Lee Swagger
- Michael Peña as Special Agent Nick Memphis
- Danny Glover as Colonel Isaac Johnson
- Kate Mara as Sarah Fenn
- Ned Beatty as Senator Charles F. Meachum
- Elias Koteas as Jack Payne
- Rhona Mitra as Special Agent Alourdes Galindo
- Jonathan Walker as Brent Dobbler
- Justin Louis as Assistant Special Agent in Charge Howard Purnell
- Tate Donovan as Special Agent Russ Turner
- Rade Šerbedžija as Mikhaylo Sczerbiak
- Lane Garrison as Lance Corporal Donnie Fenn
- Alan C. Peterson as Philadelphia Police Department Officer Stanley Timmons
- Brian Markinson as Attorney General Russert
- Levon Helm as Mr. Rate
- Mike Dopud as Lead Mercenary
- Paul Alexander Warren as Secret Service
- Dean McKenzie as Archbishop of Ethiopia
- Logan as Bob Lee Swagger's Dog
The novel Point of Impact was in development first at Universal and later at Paramount for twelve years, with seven screenwriters attempting many adaptations. The author Stephen Hunter also tried to adapt the book but was put off by the experience and disconnected himself from the process. Jonathan Lemkin read the book and some of the previous drafts and was able to avoid repeating some of the same mistakes. Lemkin updated the story away from the original post Vietnam setting, and restructured the story bringing the main event to the end of the first act, and to cut the multiple plot lines down to just the A story. His page 1 rewrite of the screenplay attracted Wahlberg and Fuqua, and on his second draft the film got the greenlight to go into production. Unusually for a screenplay with such a long development process and multiple rewrites, Lemkin retained sole credit after Writers Guild of America arbitration.
Most of the film was shot on location in New Westminster, Kamloops, Mission, Ashcroft and Cache Creek in British Columbia, Canada. For example, Swagger's escape was filmed in New Westminster along the Fraser River. The car chase that ends when it plunged into the river was filmed down 6th Street and off the Westminster Quay. The following scene of Swagger clinging to the side of a dredger was also filmed on the Fraser River near the Pattullo Bridge.
The assassination scenes were filmed in Independence National Historical Park in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The sniper location was created from using the exteriors of the church steeple at the junction of New Street and North 4th Street and combining them with an elevated view from another building to create a fictional vista of the park. The final scene was shot on Benton Crossing Road, about ten miles east of Mammoth Lakes, California.
Weapons and tactics
Shooter depicts a number of sniper tactics, thanks to the guidance of former U.S. Marine scout sniper Patrick Garrity, who trained Mark Wahlberg for the film. Garrity taught Wahlberg to shoot both left- and right-handed (the actor is left-handed), as he had to switch shooting posture throughout the movie, due to Swagger's sustained injuries. He was also trained to adjust a weapon's scope, judge effects of wind on a shot, do rapid bolt manipulation and develop special breathing skills. His training included extreme distance shooting (up to 1,100 yards/1,006 m), and the use of camouflage ghillie suits. Fuqua appointed Garrity as the film's military technical advisor.
In the special features of the DVD, Garrity is interviewed pointing out that the shot fired in the assassination would not have hit the archbishop straight on, as in the film. When a round is fired it will fall from 30–40 feet (9.1–12.2 m) depending on the distance of the shot. To compensate, the round is fired at an arc calibrated by how far the round is going to fall, the distance of the shot, temperature, humidity and wind. In his interview Garrity said "At 1,800 yards (1,646 m), because of the hydrostatic shock that follows a large-caliber, high-velocity round such as the .408 Chey Tac (which is used in the shot), the target would literally be peeled apart and limbs would be flying 200 feet (61 m) away." The exit wound on the archbishop's head would have been too extreme to show in movie theaters. Instead, the movie depicts a much less graphic representation of the assassination.
The score to the film was composed by Mark Mancina, who recorded the music at the Todd-AO Scoring Stage in Studio City, Los Angeles, using a 77-piece orchestra conducted by Don Harper. A score soundtrack was released by Lakeshore Records on March 27, 2007. The song "Nasty Letter" by Otis Taylor plays over the end of the film and credits.
Shooter grossed $47 million in the U.S. and Canada and $48.7 million in other territories, for a total gross of $95.7 million against its $61 million production budget.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 48% approval rating based on 147 reviews; the average rating is 5.6/10. The site's consensus reads, "With an implausible story and numerous plot holes, Shooter fails to distinguish itself from other mindless action-thrillers." Metacritic assigns the film a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times calls the film "a thoroughly reprehensible, satisfyingly violent entertainment about men and guns and things that go boom". Dargis describes director Fuqua's technique as overshot and overedited, but says he has a knack for chaos and the result is "pretty enjoyable". Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review but was critical of the weak characterization: "If the movie only lavished as much thought and care on its characters as it does on each intricate set piece, Shooter might have been a classic." Honeycutt says the problem is the screenplay by Jonathan Lemkin, and the source novel "Point of Impact" by film critic and author Stephen Hunter. He highlights Pena for his performance, and praise the technical aspects of the film, particularly the stunt work, and the camera work of Peter Menzies Jr. Tony Horkins of Empire magazine praised the movie: "The sequel-ready Swagger challenges Bourne's supremacy with an impressive shoot-'em-up, work-it-out action drama".
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