Mark Wahlberg knows a thing or two about making hit movies. It seems like the guy has been doing it forever now with a host of big-budget action flicks under his belt. Heck, he’s even coming off another one in Uncharted that was recently released on the big screen earlier in the year. But one of his older films, a flick that’s drummed up a certain amount of controversy, is currently crushing it on streaming. Shooter is number one in the United States right now on Netflix, taking the top spot in just its first week on the platform.
Shooter doesn’t mix words in its title (or in its promotional art) about just what kind of movie we are getting here. It starts off in the way your typical, rogue hero film often does, with a dude living in relative isolation as he tries to escape the pain of the past. That’s Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger who, at one time, was one of the best snipers the Marines had to offer. But a mission gone wrong and a friend lost has led him to seek refuge alone in the mountains with his dog. That is until the government comes around needing his help to protect a suspected assassination plot. Check out the trailer for Shooter.
Getting pulled out of retirement is almost never a good thing for a primary protagonist in an action film because you just know something is going to go really wrong. And it sure does for Mark Wahlberg here, taking almost no time for him to be at the center of a plot to kill the President, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, a shot he didn’t take. This leads to Wahlberg’s swagger heading out on the lam, trying to evade nearly the entirety of United States law enforcement and military. Of course, he is up to the task with the old “set of skills” we’ve become used to, but there are some close calls.
What ensues in Shooter is Mark Wahlberg trying to outrun the law, find people he can trust, and ultimately unwind the conspiracy elements that sought to frame him in the first place. It’s a ridiculous plot, though is entertaining along the way. Wahlberg, as always, lights up the screen as a confident and brash type who has no time to put up with folks trying to take him down. There’s plenty to sink your teeth into here with it mostly a color-by-number action film that essentially delivers on what it sets out to do: entertain you with gunfights, explosions, conspiracies, and one-liners.
In addition to Mark Wahlberg, the cast of Shooter includes some other notables. There’s Michael Pena as an FBI agent who unwittingly becomes one of the few people in the government who actually trusts that Swagger is actually innocent. Plus we get Kate Mara as the ex-wife of one of Swagger’s former military mates. Donald Glover as Colonel Jackson brings Swagger into the mix, to begin with, and Elias Koteas is on board as well. The film was directed by the great Antoine Fuqua who’s got all kinds of chops in the action/ intrigue space with flicks like Training Day, Brooklyn’s Finest, The Equalizer, and Olympus Has Fallen among others.
But the film underperformed on a couple of different important levels. For starters, the box office was kind of a mess with Shooter earning only $96 million on its $61 million budget. For a Mark Wahlberg film, this is something of a disaster. Audiences just weren’t coming out to see this story. And the critical reception didn’t help either. It’s sitting at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes with some critics really laying waste to the script and the lead performance. Thinking it overtly political at times, trying to make a point about corruption without ever really getting there.
And then some controversy cropped up around this Mark Wahlberg title about a decade later when a Shooter series was set to air on USA starring Ryan Phillppe in the lead role. The series was supposed to release in July of 2016 but was pushed back by a week because of the shooting of Dallas police officers that had happened earlier in the month. This was around an incident in which a man ambushed and killed five officers while wounding nine others. And then another incident in Louisiana prompted the show to push their premiere all the way back into November. In the end, that series ran for three seasons before being canceled.
Now, Mark Wahlberg and Shooter are making a comeback on streaming, crushing on Netflix in its first week there.