Shooter is a 2007 American action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Jonathan Lemkin, based on the 1993 novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter.
The film follows US Marine Force Recon veteran Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), who is framed for murder by a rogue unit of personnel operating for a private military firm.
The film also stars Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Levon Helm, and Ned Beatty. It was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura through Di Bonaventura Pictures, and released by Paramount Pictures in the United States on 23 March 2007.
A TV show of the same name, with Mark Wahlberg as a producer, aired for three seasons between 2016 and 2018.
USMC Force Recon Gunnery Sergeant sniper Bob Lee Swagger is on a mission in Eritrea with his spotter and friend Corporal Donnie Fenn. They help an allied convoy evade the enemy, but Donnie is subsequently killed in the firefight against the enemy militia forces. Three years later, Swagger, now a disillusioned civilian, is living in self-imposed exile at a secluded log cabin. At the office of a unnamed Private Military Company in Langley, Virginia, a retired US Army Colonel in the alias of Isaac Johnson and his associates and his employees review his combat operation report and his DD-214 and visit him and requests his expertise to prevent a pending assassination of the US president. Johnson gives him a list of possible assassination sites, and Swagger concludes that Independence Hall in Philadelphia is most likely. As Swagger is working with Johnson’s men to find the assassin, the Ethiopian archbishop is killed instead while standing next the President. Swagger is double-crossed when he himself is shot by a corrupt Philadelphia police officer, though he manages to escape. The conspirators frame Swagger as the assassin, and a manhunt ensues. Swagger subdues an inexperienced FBI agent, Nick Memphis, and steals his car, crashing it into the Delaware River. He then clings to the side of a boat to evade pursuing policemen.
After escaping, Swagger treats his injuries and takes refuge with Sarah, Donnie’s widow. He later persuades her to help him contact Memphis with information about the conspiracy. Memphis is scapegoated for Swagger’s escape and is awaiting punishment, but argues that given Swagger’s training and expertise, it is suspicious that the president survived and the archbishop standing several feet away was killed. He suspects that Swagger may have been framed for the assassination and is further convinced when he learns that the policeman that shot Swagger was murdered shortly afterwards.
When the conspirators realize Memphis’ unusually successful work was about to expose their operation, they send mercenaries to kidnap him and attempt to stage his suicide. However, Swagger arrives and kills the men who abducted him, thus saving Memphis. The two then collaborate by visiting a firearms expert who provides information on the FBI’s ballistics report and a list of people capable of taking a shot akin to the assassination’s. Learning this, they confront the actual assassin, who kills himself after revealing that the archbishop was the intended target and was murdered to prevent him from revealing their involvement in the massacre of an Eritrean village, which was carried out on the order of a consortium of corporate oil interests led by corrupt US senator Charles Meachum. Swagger records the assassin’s confession of his involvement in the massacre, but immediately after and with Memphis’ assistance, escapes from and defeats an ambush by engaging and killing numerous mercenaries including foot soldiers and an armed helicopter in the subsequent firefight.
Meanwhile, other mercenaries have captured Sarah to lure Swagger out of hiding. Swagger eliminates several mercenary snipers and he and Memphis rescue Sarah when Johnson and Meachum arrange a meeting to release her in exchange for the evidence implicating them in the assassination. Meachum escapes and Swagger and Memphis surrender to the FBI.
Afterwards, Swagger is brought before the US attorney general and the FBI director in a private meeting with Colonel Johnson, Memphis, and Sarah also present. Swagger quickly clears his name by aiming his loaded rifle (present as evidence as it was supposedly used in the assassination) at Johnson, and pulling the trigger – which fails to fire. Swagger describes that every time he leaves his house, he renders his firearms inoperable until he returns. Although Swagger is exonerated, Johnson cannot be prosecuted as Africa is outside US jurisdiction. The attorney general tells Swagger that he must abide by the law and to refrain from vigilantism, “even though sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.” Swagger is released; the charges are dropped.
As Johnson and Meachum sit in a secluded cabin plotting their next move, Swagger breaks in and kills both men and their conspirators, before arranging for the house to blow up as if by accident. He escapes with Sarah.
- Mark Wahlberg as Gunnery Sergeant Bob Lee Swagger.
- Michael Peña as Special Agent Nick Memphis.
- Danny Glover as Colonel Isaac Johnson.
- Kate Mara as Sarah Fenn.
- Elias Koteas as Jack Payne.
- Rhona Mitra as Special Agent Alourdes Galindo.
- Jonathan Walker as Louis Dobbler.
- Justin Louis as Assistant Special Agent in Charge Howard Purnell.
- Tate Donovan as Special Agent Russ Turner.
- Rade Sherbedgia as Michael Sandor.
- Alan C. Peterson as Philadelphia Police Department officer Stanley Timmons.
- Ned Beatty as Senator Charles F. Meachum.
- Lane Garrison as Lance Corporal Donnie Fenn.
- Brian Markinson as Attorney General Russert.
- Levon Helm as Mr. Rate.
- Mike Dopud as Lead Mercenary.
- Eamonn Walker as Archbishop.
The novel Point of Impact was in development first at Universal and later at Paramount for twelve years, with seven screenwriters attempting many adaptations. The author Stephen Hunter also tried to adapt the book but was put off by the experience and disconnected himself from the process. Jonathan Lemkin read the book and some of the previous drafts and was able to avoid repeating some of the same mistakes. Lemkin updated the story away from the original post Vietnam setting, and restructured the story bringing the main event to the end of the first act, and to cut the multiple plot lines down to just the A story. His page 1 rewrite of the screenplay attracted Wahlberg and Fuqua, and on his second draft, the film got the green light to go into production. Unusually for a screenplay with such a long development process and multiple rewrites, Lemkin retained sole credit after Writers Guild of America arbitration.
Most of the film was shot on location in New Westminster, Kamloops, Mission, Ashcroft and Cache Creek in British Columbia, Canada. For example, Swagger’s escape was filmed in New Westminster along the Fraser River, standing in for the Delaware River. The car chase that ends when it plunged into the river was filmed down 6th Street and off the Westminster Quay. The following scene of Swagger clinging to the side of a dredger was also filmed on the Fraser River near the Pattullo Bridge.
The assassination scenes were filmed in Independence National Historical Park in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The sniper location was created from using the exteriors of the church steeple at the junction of New Street and North 4th Street and combining them with an elevated view from another building to create a fictional vista of the park. The final scene was in Mammoth Lakes, California, in the lakes basin.
The mountaintop confrontation was shot on the glaciers of Rainbow Mountain, near the resort town of Whistler, British Columbia.
Weapons and Tactics
Shooter depicts a number of sniper tactics, thanks to the guidance of former US Marine scout sniper Patrick Garrity, who trained Mark Wahlberg for the film. Garrity taught Wahlberg to shoot both left- and right-handed (the actor is left-handed), as he had to switch shooting posture throughout the movie, due to Swagger’s sustained injuries. He was also trained to adjust a weapon’s scope, judge effects of wind on a shot, do rapid bolt manipulation, and develop special breathing skills. His training included extreme distance shooting (up to 1,100 yards/1,006 m), and the use of camouflage ghillie suits. Fuqua appointed Garrity as the film’s military-technical advisor.
In the special features of the DVD, Garrity is interviewed pointing out that the shot fired in the assassination would not have hit the archbishop straight on, as in the film. When a round is fired it will fall from 30-40 feet (9.1–12.2 m) depending on the distance of the shot. To compensate, the round is fired at an arc calibrated by how far the round is going to fall, the distance of the shot, temperature, humidity, and wind. In his interview, Garrity said “At 1,800 yards (1,646 m), because of the hydrostatic shock that follows a large-calibre, high-velocity round such as the .408 Chey Tac (which is used in the shot), the target would literally be peeled apart and limbs would be flying 200 feet (61 m) away.” The exit wound on the archbishop’s head would have been too extreme to show in movie theatres. Instead, the movie depicts a much less graphic representation of the assassination.
Throughout the film, Swagger uses an array of sniper rifles, among which are the USMC M40A3, the CheyTac Intervention, and the Barrett M82.
The score to the film was composed by Mark Mancina, who recorded the music at the Todd-AO Scoring Stage in Studio City, Los Angeles, using a 77-piece orchestra conducted by Don Harper. A score soundtrack was released by Lakeshore Records on 27 March 2007. The song “Nasty Letter” by Otis Taylor plays over the end of the film and credits.
Shooter grossed $47 million in the US and Canada and $48.7 million in other territories, for a total gross of $95.7 million against its $61 million production budget.
The film grossed $14.5 million in its opening weekend, finishing in 3rd at the box office behind TMNT ($24.3 million) and 300 ($19.9 million).
The DVD was released on 26 June 2007, reaching the top of the US sales charts. The film earned $57.6 million in DVD sales in the North America.
Reboot TV Show
In 2016, USA Network picked up a series of the same name based on the movie, with Wahlberg as a producer and Ryan Phillippe as Swagger.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Antoine Fuqua.
- Producer(s): Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
- Writer(s): Jonathan Lemkin.
- Music: Mark Mancina.
- Cinematography: Peter Menzies Jr.
- Editor(s): Conrad Buff and Eric Sears.
- Production: di Bonaventura Pictures.
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures.
- Release Date: 23 March 2007 (US).
- Running Time: 126 minutes.
- Rating: 15.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.