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'Shooter' releases pent-up frustrations


Last updated 3/29/2007 at Noon

Forget waiting for the sequels; “Shooter” is the movie of the year if you need a release of your pent-up frustrations about the oil wars and want to see them explode onscreen. You’ll leave the theater with more questions than answers about our reliance on oil and what part each of us plays in the bigger picture. How can such a violent movie seem so virtuous and the main character, Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), seem a really nice guy?

Swagger just wants to be left alone with his dog Sam in a mountain cabin as far away from civilization as possible since losing his sharp-shooting partner, Donny, in combat. He might be suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but he is still a “suck-up” patriot who wants to serve his country. PTSD has a tendency to hit soldiers after intense combat, sometimes causing them to become boozers or pill addicts, commit suicide while in combat, become loners like Bob Lee or, one could speculate, act out like Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Oklahoma City Federal building in April 1995.

McVeigh and Swagger both lived and breathed guns and survivalism, but Bob Lee did not kill innocent children. Both probably would have benefited from a hobby like basket-weaving or badminton, using items which couldn’t be transformed into a weapon. As Swagger says in his homespun way, “Tennessee is the patron saint of guns.”

Military thugs come to visit Swagger at his mountaintop cabin because of his sharp-shooting abilities and the conspiracy begins – but against whom, might we ask? After watching this movie, you might be convinced that conspiracies are a daily event in our government. Perhaps we play an equal part in this conspiracy; Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) has no “moral compass” but partly blames the demand for oil. He comes to visit Swagger and will not take no for an answer. He lays his version of the truth on the line for Swagger. Without oil, freedom is an illusion in the US.

The bad guys are the senators and other officials in the American government who have no “moral compasses” because they are serving their constituency. Their voters want oil cheap and uninterrupted. Either they are the haves or the have-nots. Who wants to be a have-not in the United States?

People with a fascination for guns and ballistics will come to worship this movie. It’s hard not to believe there won’t be some copycat actions as a result of this movie. Swagger kills just about everyone who might be a military thug. Oddly, the bad guys won’t whack anyone in this movie except a fat, crooked cop. The archbishop of Ethiopia gets the top of his head blown off Kennedy-style, although it’s never said whether he survived to become a vegetable.

Staying in touch with old friends and making a new one is another skill Swagger is good at. Sarah Fenn (Kate Mara), Donny’s widow, is female and a good shot. Nicholas Memphis (Michael Peña) is a goofy FBI agent. They both prove that a friend in need is a friend indeed. If it weren’t for those two young, scared everyday superheroes, Swagger would have been toast.

The action is so fast that after seeing it on the big screen, it won’t lose any of its “firepower” watching it over and over, sort of like “Blackhawk Down” but better. This movie could even raise the testosterone level of a woman (what little she has) through the roof, especially when Fenn takes out some of the thugs with some high-powered metal. Wow! It’s refreshing to see a woman get to shoot something up.

“Shooter” makes it very obvious who the thugs are: everyone except Swagger, Memphis and Fenn. The attorney general is played well, but with the scandal in Washington right now the conspiracy fanatics will see the similarities as not just a coincidence. How much corruption can a country stand?

Maybe it’s the same in the Middle East; one terrorist is eliminated and ten or a hundred more will take up his cause for Allah or oil. How far or corrupt will the next administration become in order to assure that the flow of oil will be uninterrupted? As “Shooter” reminds us, “Nothing is done in a country without the government having full knowledge of it.”


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