Shooter: Mark Wahlberg’s disposable, dumb, undemanding action flick hits Netflix

Sitting at No.9 on Netflix’ Top 10 movies tonight is this 2007 release directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Mark Wahlberg stars as an ex-army sniper, living alone in a cabin in the mountains with a deep suspicion of the government, who nevertheless falls for the most obvious scheme ever, when he becomes a patsy for an assassination of an archbishop in Philadelphia.

Wahlberg does his usual you-couldn’t-afford-Matt Damon schtick, but he’s effective enough.

Shooter is a dumb, loud and eventually annoying film that probably achieves exactly what the studio wanted.

A selection of villains – including Danny Glover and Ned Beatty – get offed in increasingly gruesome ways, while a completely wasted Kate Mara is poured into a wonder-bra and told to look adoringly at Wahlberg while waiting to be kidnapped and worse by the baddies.

Michael Cena is terrific as a young FBI agent who works on Wahberg’s side. And there’s a cameo from the lamented Levon Helm, as an eccentric and reclusive munitions guru, which is pretty much the best thing in the entire film.

In Shooter, Mark Wahlberg does his usual you-couldn't-afford-Matt Damon schtick, but he's effective enough.

KIMBERLEY FRENCHIn Shooter, Mark Wahlberg does his usual you-couldn’t-afford-Matt Damon schtick, but he’s effective enough.

Shooter is disposable, dumb and fun, if you’re undemanding and don’t really like people very much. But the avoidable idiocies do get irritating. In one scene, Wahlberg makes a 200-metre shot while standing up in a dinghy in the middle of a river. Stable dry land was only a few metres away.

Fuqua (The Equalizer) has made far better films than this. But he also has action chops to burn – and they are definitely on display in Shooter.

Here’s what is wrong with this 2016 movie: It’s trying to be a good film. Which is a fatal mistake.

What did director Justin Kurzel (who made the startlingly good, but utterly arthouse Macbeth) think he was doing when he hired Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling to fill out the lead roles?

These people are actors – for cripes’ sake – and actors aren’t the people you want in a video game adaptation.

No. You want your Vin Diesels, your Jason Stathams, your Gerard Butlers. Those men can all pull out a fine performance – if it’s needed. But what they are really good at is running around, jumping off high things and hitting people. Preferably while the special-effects budget blows up behind them.

Shooter (2007) - IMDb

Diesel, Statham and Butler can all act. But they are far more famous for just pretending to do stuff. There’s a difference. And Justin Kurzel didn’t understand that.

In Assassin’s Creed, we get Fassbender and his cohorts – including an underused Michael K Williams (He was Omar in The Wire. RIP) talking. A lot. Usually in a kind of constipated murmur that passes for serious when the dialogue includes lines like “insert him in the animus”.

Actually, Marion Cotillard should get an award for managing to get that out with a straight face.

In between are some handsome-looking sequences of Fassbender in the 14th century, battling the Spanish Inquisition. But, far too many of these scenes are devoted to Fassbender and Ariane Labed (The Lobster) apparently inventing parkour, as they run, jump and climb around digital castles and town streets.

The first 20 or so times that Fassbender and Labed leap off some stupid height, you might be able to maintain interest, but at around the two-hour mark, it becomes boring.

Diesel and co know how to pull this stuff off with a wink and a grin. Fassbender just puts on his serious-actor face and charges off to do some other ridiculous bit of gymnastics and – and this is crucial – never manages to impart any sense of fun or anarchy to the film.

A video game-based movie needs to be respectful of the game, while also remembering to do the things that make a film good. Assassin’s Creed deserves some points for trying.

It’s not the worst video game adaptation out there. But when it tries to recreate the game, it looks like a pretty bad movie. And when it tries to be a movie, it looks like a bad video game.

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