Shooter is based upon the Stephen Hunter novel Point of Impact, and although there are multiple similarities, readers of the book can look forward to a modern rehash of the Hunter story. Since the release of the trailer I have been looking forward to this one, especially now that its being released on HD DVD, how does it turn out?
Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg, The Italian Job) is an elite Marine sniper and patriot. But that all changes when his commanding officer abandons him behind en…my lines, his best friend and spotter dies and Swagger narrowly escapes. Naturally Swagger turns to a life of solitude in the minuteness wilderness of Wyoming, where he shares a log cabin with his dog.
One day out of the blue, three years after the incident in the middle east, Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon) enlists Swagger for his help in tracking down a purported presidential assassin. Reluctant at first Swagger is one of the few people in the world who knows the conditions required to take out a target from a mile away and eventually narrows down the location to Philadelphia.
But that’s when things get sticky, instead of the American president being assassinated the Ethiopian archbishop is killed and Swagger framed. Aside from the burden of an assassination hanging above his head he sustains two gunshot wounds and narrowly escapes. Meanwhile a nationwide manhunt is underway and Swagger goes to the only person he can think of, his spotter’s widow. Here a romance develops, but only as a played down side story, thankfully. As the story goes on Swagger enlists the help of rookie FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Pena, World Trade Center to prove his innocence as the conspiracy begins to unravel.
Ultimately I liked the characters, I liked the actors, I liked the action, but something seemed to be missing form Shooter. This film seemed to play out more like a comic book to me, the ex-marine takes on the government head on. But aside form the lack of realism there was some nice action scenes, especially the climatic mountain top shoot out. As well the inclusion of a romantic interest into the picture didn’t take away from the story or the advancing plot which was a welcome surprise. All in all if you take Shooter for what it is you just might really enjoy it. If you’re curious about weapons read a factual book, if you want to see people get taken out from 500 meters away with a 50 caliber rifle, watch Shooter. Sure the plot is a little stale, but for the most part this political thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat, I could easily recommend checking this movie out if you’re a fan of the genre.
Presented in a 1080p 2.35:1 aspect ratio and encoded in MPEG-4, Shooter hits HD DVD with some spectacular looking results. Right from the opening shot which pans over a Middle Eastern landscape I knew that Shooter was going to deliver the goods. Close ups with Swagger reveal realistic flesh tones and crisp detail, showcasing every pore in his face and every piece of his Ghillie camouflage suit. One of the great things about the transfer is the many different landscape shots throughout the film. From snowy mountain tops to lush green backwoods every thing looks highly detailed and perfectly colored, providing a superb three dimensional look.
The print itself looks great with no visible grain and only the occasional soft scene. These shots are noticeable however, especially compared to the sharp look present throughout. Luckily these shots are few and far between and hardly hamper an otherwise outstanding transfer. Paramount continues to deliver top tier transfers for their high def releases, Shooter is no different.
Paramount continues to include its Dolby Digital Plus track with HD DVD releases which is somewhat disappointing considering the films material would have benefited from uncompressed audio. Still, this is an action movie and the track we are given does do an efficient job with the material.
There are quite a few action sequences throughout the movie, each one sounding great. Early on, Swagger practices with marksmanship in the mountains, the loud boom of the .50 Cal rifle uses a perfect balance of base and rear support making you feel the power of the rifle. The raid on the cabin which takes place later on in the film is the definite highlight however. With knife stabs, gunfire, explosions and helicopters there was sound flying from every speaker. Dialogue sounded great too and never flat, partly due to the impressive ambient noise coming from the rear speakers, be it cars honking in the city in the back ground or birds chirping in the mountain air. Despite its technical shortcomings Shooter is still equipped with an impressive sounding track.
Paramount has included only a few features with this release, thankfully they provide a good amount of interesting information and are all presented in HD.
- Audio Commentary – Commentary with Director Antoine Fuqua
- Deleted Scenes – A group of 7 deleted scenes are a nice addition. The extended shopping scene although unnecessary did add some comedy.
- Survival of the Fittest – A 21 minute making of feature that focuses on the films origins to the films post production. The most interesting aspect of this feature is the look at sniper school which Mark Wahlberg had to attend before filming.
- Independence Hall – Park Rangers give an inside look at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the location for the Presidential assignation. For those who want an inside look of the liberty bell this feature will provide some interesting information.
- Theatrical Trailer
Well Shooter wasn’t the greatest movie I’ve seen but it was definitely a great action/conspiracy film. The action is pretty constant and the story is usually advancing at a good pace, with the exception of a few slow spots. But for those of you that are already sold on the movie you will be happy to know that this video transfer looks superb, and add onto that a great audio track and you got yourself a nice HD DVD disc. So to put it plainly, if you like this movie the HD DVD is worth the investment, if you haven’t seen it before you should at least give it a rental.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Survival of the Fittest
- Independence Hall
- Theatrical Trailer