Sunday, March 25, 2007

Monkey Movie Review - "Shooter"

This afternoon, my wife, my sister, and I went to see "Shooter", Mark Wahlberg's new movie. I would describe it as - a guy movie - with intelligence.

The plot is smart, fast moving, and believeable, with enough twists and turns to make you feel like you are driving a Formula 1 racer at Le Mans. Mark Mancina's gripping sound track ratchets up the level of suspense even more.

Wahlberg plays Bobby Lee Swagger, an ex-Marine sniper, who is recruited by Colonel Issac Johnson (Danny Glover) for what Bobby thinks is a mission to prevent a Presidential assasination. He subsequently finds out that he has been set up as the fall guy for the assasination attempt. The story then winds through a number of chase scenes (as the government tries to capture Bobby) and counterattacks (as Bobby tries to clear his name, and take revenge on his tormentors). It's tough to tell the good guys from the bad guys in this movie, which increases the dramatic tension even more.

Danny Glover plays the consummate evil doer in an organization of shadowy government figures and hired thugs. He is so evil that you want to reach through the screen and strangle him as he carries out his dark missions and his persecution of Bobby Lee. That's the sign of a really good performance, when an actor can make you hate his character so much.

A suspense story wouldn't be complete without "the girl". In this flick she is Sarah Fenn, who is played by Kate Mara. Kate's simple beauty is hypnotizing, and her performance - as the widow of Bobby Lee's Marine sniper partner - is dynamic. Kate's character displays a vulnerability that makes her beauty even more compelling. Sarah helps Bobby Lee to recover from his injuries after the bad guys attempt to kill him following the assasination attempt. She figures centrally in the story from that point on. Kate also played the role of Alma Jr. (age 19) in Brokeback Mountain.

Michael Pena
contributes an vigorous performance as FBI agent Nick Memphis, who inadvertantly becomes Bobby Lee's partner, after he recognizes that the official government story of the assasination attempt is "shot full of holes". Michael also played the unforgettable role of Daniel, the locksmith, in "Crash". His daughter "saving" him in the shooting scene is one of my all time favorite movie moments!

"Shooter" was directed by Antoine Fuqua. His transformation of Stephen Hunter's novel "Point of Impact" into this movie is masterful. He also directed other thrillers - "Training Day" with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, and "Tears of the Sun" with Bruce Willis. It is obvious that Antoine has learned well how to create a cinematic experience that is visually compelling with a riveting plot.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this movie was the cinematography, which was directed by Peter Menzies Jr. There are many breathtaking panoramic shots of snow covered mountains as well as cityscapes that give this movie a grand sense of scale.

"Shooter" also contains some of the best napalm blasts that I have ever seen. That - combined with some terrific helicopter explosions - runs the needle off the end of The Guy Movie Scale.

Although this is definitely a Guy Movie, there is something for the ladies as well. In one scene, Mark Wahlberg takes his shirt off to tend to his gunshot wounds. His well muscled torso had my wife and sister drooling in their seats.

From a primate perspective, this is definitely a guy chimpanzee movie. Violent behavior is not uncommon in chimp groups, especially among the males. I am certain that Bobby Lee's attemps to unseat the alpha male (Colonel Johnson) of the shadow government organization would appeal to the Young Turks in chimpanzee societies.

Summary: I give "Shooter" 4 bananas for excitement, story line, and compelling imagery.

The Monkey Prose Movie Scale goes from no bananas (It sucks.) to 5 bananas (It is one the best movies in human history!)

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