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Shooter


Shooter is a 2007 conspiracy thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua based on the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter. The film concerns a former United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper, Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), who is framed for murder by a rogue secret private military company unit. It was released in cinemas on March 23, 2007.

Plot

Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), a retired USMC Force Recon Gunnery Sergeant and Scout Sniper, is one of the few snipers in the world whose marksmanship abilities allow him to “take out a target from a mile away”. He reluctantly leaves a self-imposed exile from his isolated mountain home in the Wind River Range at the request of Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover). Johnson appeals to Swagger’s expertise and patriotism to help track down an assassin who plans on shooting the president from a great distance with a high powered rifle. Johnson gives him a list of three cities where the President is scheduled to visit so Swagger can determine if an attempt could be made at any of them.

Swagger assesses each of the locations and determines that a site in Philadelphia would be most conducive to a long range assassination attempt. He passes this information to Johnson, who purportedly arranges for a response. This turns out to be a set-up; while Swagger is working with Johnson’s agents—including a local police officer—to find the rumored assassin, the Ethiopian archbishop is instead assassinated while standing next to the president. Swagger is shot by the officer, but manages to escape. The agents tell the police and public that Swagger is the shooter, and stage a massive manhunt for the injured sniper. However, Swagger has a stroke of luck—he meets a rookie FBI special agent, Nick Memphis (Michael Peña), disarms him and steals his car.

Swagger uses the first aid supplies in the car to treat his wounds and escapes by driving into the Delaware River while being chased. He then takes refuge with Sarah Fenn (Kate Mara), widow of Swagger’s late spotter and close friend Donnie Fenn, killed years before in a mission in Africa that Swagger himself barely survived. She saves his life by cleaning and stitching Swagger’s gunshot wounds, and he later convinces her to help him contact Memphis with information on the conspiracy. Memphis is blamed for allowing Swagger’s escape and is disciplined for negligence. He independently learns that Swagger may have been framed for the assassination by finding several inconsistencies in the evidence and witness statements provided to the FBI by an unnamed private agency.

When the rogue agents realize their secret is compromised, they kidnap Memphis and attempt to stage his suicide. Swagger tails the agents and kills Memphis’ captors with a scoped .22 rifle equipped with a homemade silencer. Swagger and Memphis then join forces and visit a firearms expert (Levon Helm) in Athens, Tennessee. Together they plot to capture the person who they think is the real assassin, an ex-sniper allied with Colonel Johnson. Once they find him in Lynchburg, Virginia, he commits suicide after revealing that the archbishop was actually the real target and he was murdered to prevent his speaking out against U.S. involvement in the genocide of an Ethiopian village. The genocide was carried out on behalf of a consortium of American corporate oil interests headed by corrupt Senator Charles Meachum (Ned Beatty). Swagger learns that the mission in which Fenn was killed was also a part of the genocide, as they were tasked to cover the withdrawal of the contractors assigned to the job. Swagger records the ex–sniper’s confession of his involvement in the African genocide. Then, with Memphis’ assistance, Swagger escapes from an ambush by killing 24 mercenaries.

Meanwhile, other rogue mercenaries, led by Johnson’s psychotic right-hand man Jack Payne (Elias Koteas), have kidnapped Sarah in order to lure Swagger out of hiding. With his new evidence and cat and mouse strategy, Swagger and Memphis are able to rescue her when Colonel Johnson and Senator Meachum arrange a meeting to exchange their hostage for the evidence of their wrongdoing. After killing Payne and several enemy snipers in an isolated mountain range and rescuing Sarah, Swagger and Memphis finally surrender to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Later appearing in a closed meeting with the Director of the FBI and the United States Attorney General present, Swagger clears his name by loading a rifle round (supplied by Memphis) into his rifle (which is there as evidence since it was supposedly used in the killing), aiming it at the Colonel and pulling the trigger—which fails to fire the round. Swagger explains that every time he leaves his house, he removes the firing pins from all his guns, replacing them with slightly shorter ones, thus rendering them unable to fire until he returns. Although Swagger is exonerated, Colonel Johnson cannot be charged with a crime as the Ethiopian genocide is outside American legal jurisdiction and he walks free. The attorney general approaches Swagger and states that, as a law enforcement official, he must abide by the law (“It’s not the Wild West anymore, you can’t just clean up the streets with a gun, even though sometimes, that’s exactly what’s needed”). Afterwards, the Colonel and the Senator plan their next move while at the Senator’s vacation house—only to be interrupted by an attack by Swagger. He kills both conspirators, one of the Colonel’s aides, and two bodyguards, then breaks open a gas valve before leaving. The fire in the fireplace ignites the gas, blowing up the house. The final scene shows Swagger getting into a car with Sarah and driving away.

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