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Paramount Studios presents
Shooter HD-DVD (2007)

"Welcome to Tennessee, patron state of shootin' stuff."
- Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: September 14, 2007

Stars: Mark Wahlberg
Other Stars: Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Rade Sherbedgia, Ned Beatty
Director: Antoine Fuqua

MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence and some language
Run Time: 02h:05m:37s
Release Date: July 31, 2007
UPC: 097361300603
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B A-A-A- B

DVD Review

The DVD Review and Extras Review are by Chuck Aliaga.

Thanks to the TV series Entourage , loosely based on Mark Wahlberg's career, I can't help but think of Vinny Chase every time I see the former "Marky Mark" in a film. Based upon the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, Wahlberg's latest vehicle, Shooter, puts him in the action star mode that he seems most comfortable in. Directed by Training Day's Antoine Fuqua, what first seems like formulaic action movie trash turns out to be a watchable, bloody thriller that warrants a look.

Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) is a military marksman struggling to get over the loss of his friend Donnie (Lane Garrison), who didn't make it through their last mission. Living in a secluded cabin, Bob is visited by a group of government officials with Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) as their leader. He's got a mission for the seemingly retired vet: aid the government in stopping the proposed assassination of the president (Tom Butler). After traveling to a Presidential speech in Philadelphia, Bob is framed for the murder of an Ethiopian Archbishop, and is left to run for his life. In an attempt to clear his name, Swagger finds refuge with Donnie's widow, Sara (Kate Mara), while seeking some inside help from FBI Agent Nick Memphis (Michael Pena), one of the few authorities he, or anyone, can trust.

The first film that comes to mind while watching this is Stallone's First Blood. The comparison is almost shoved down our throats during the first 15 minutes, with Swagger being visited in his woodland cabin by a group of authority figures. The story evolves to more than that, though, eventually involving the types of twists and turns we're used to seeing on 24 and Prison Break. It's difficult to recommend a film, even an action one, that isn't very emotionally engaging. Still, there's enough fun to be had here to make it a worthwhile rental, as director Fuqua goes to great lengths to keep things interesting.

A discussion with an old man who sounds strangely like Karl Childers makes for an interesting break from the action, mirroring the controversial theological sequence in The Da Vinci Code as the guy spews conspiracy theories left and right, including one about the JFK assassination. There's also a surprisingly harrowing interrogation scene that comes from out of nowhere, and becomes one of the picture's most exciting sequences. Without Fuqua at the helm, these actionless parts would almost certainly bring things to a standstill.

Wahlberg is in the middle of a heck of a hot streak. With solid work in Four Brothers and The Italian Job, he took things to the next level with his Oscar-nominated work in The Departed and excels again here, turning a clichéd military vet (with one of the most ridiculous character names you'll ever hear) into someone we root for and genuinely care about. The rest of the cast gives ho-hum performances, and the always-reliable Elias Koteas is wasted as a personality-free henchman. This is Wahlberg's show, so it isn't too surprising that he takes center stage throughout.Kudos to this up-and-coming auteur for having the courage to make things very violent, yet showing enough patience to wait until the finale to shower most of the gore on us. Unfortunately, the ending stumbles a bit, thanks to some unwanted, heavy-handed dialogue. Sure, the country isn't exactly experiencing the best of times right now, but political preaching is polluting far too many movies these days.

Mark Zimmer adds:

Shooter is pretty surprising in that it's one of the most overtly political action movie I've ever run across. Unabashed in its cynicism, it takes the dim view that life under corporatism and the military/industrial/petroleum complex is one without honor, justice or anything other than naked opportunism. Grim in its assessments of the political landscape, it takes the bold if not startling approach that the only solution is political assassinations. While that might be much for many viewers (especially the standard-issue action fan), it's certainly a sentiment that wouldn't disturb the Founding Fathers too much, in their notion that periodic bloody revolutions were good for the polity. Fuqua seems to be suggesting that that time has come. Has it?

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Paramount continues to make strides in its use of the MPEG4/AVC codec. Shooter suffers from very little of the softness that was visible on some of the studio's earlier HD DVD releases. There's plenty of crisp detail throughout, with no indications of artifacting or edge enhancement that I noticed. The landscapes are frequently gorgeous, and the blacks are incredibly rich and deep. An excellent HD transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
+
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Although there's no TrueHD track, the 5.1 DD+ tracks offer plenty of impact. In particular, the opening firefight and the numerous explosions come across with all the bass oomph that you might desire. Dialogue is always crisp and clear. Directionality is surprisingly limited, except for the infrequent effects that are sprinkled throughout. It doesn't disappoint.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Antoine Fuqua
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The batch of extras includes an audio commentary track by director Antoine Fuqua. His rather straightforward discussion tells us all we'd ever want to know about the making of the film.

Survival of the Fittest: The Making of Shooter is a 21-minute exploration of what goes into the shooting of an action picture. We get a blend of interview footage, clips from the movie, and on-set clips that delve into the intricate details.

Independence Hall takes a seven-minute look at the Philadelphia location where a pivotal scene takes place. We're taken around the location by military technical advisor Patrick Garrity, but the likes of producer Ric Kidney, a group of park rangers, and park superintendent Dennis R. Reidenbach also give us a few words.

Seven deleted scenes are also available, totaling just less than 12 minutes. Most of these are throwaway clips, but a couple might have added something to the finished film. Happily, Paramount not only presents each and every one of these extras in high definition, but the HD DVD adds the theatrical trailer, unaccountably missing from the standard DVD. And it's in HD, too.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A solid actioner showcasing another fine performance by Mark Wahlberg, Antoine Fuqua's Shooter is an exciting cinematic escape. This wonderful way to get your popcorn movie fix comes to HD DVD via Paramount's solid effort. Excellent audio and video presentations combine with a handful of worthwhile extra features to make this an easy recommendation to action fans.

 


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