Shooter: Fuqua’s Conspiracy Thriller, Starring Mark Wahlberg

“The Shooter,” Antoine Fuqua’s new actioner, stars Mark Wahlberg (fresh off his Oscar nominated role in “The Departed”) as Bob Lee Swagger, a former Marine scout sniper and disgruntled American hero. This edgy, full of action and chases thriller concerns an honorable and brilliant marksman, who finds himself in an unthinkable situation: framed as a Presidential assassin.

Plunged into a shocking vortex of terror and conspiracy, the rogue discovers the race is on to prove his innocence even as he is pursued by every law enforcement agency in the country, as well as a shadowy organization on a relentless manhunt aimed at destroying the secrets he has uncovered.

Directed by Fuqua, “The Shooter” has a screenplay by Joanthan Lemkin, based on Stephen Hunter’s novel “Point of Impact.” The film’s action is brought to life by a behind the scenes team that includes cinematographer Peter Menzies (“Die Hard With a Vengeance”), production designer Dennis Washington (“The Fugitive,” “Prizzi’s Honor”), editor Conrad Buff (“Training Day”), costume designer Ha Nguyen (“Lethal Weapon 4”), and composer Mark Mancia (“Training Day”).

Sawgger thought he had walked away from the job forever after a devastating betrayal. Now, despite having sequestered himself in a remote mountain hideaway, he is approached by retied Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover), who asks for his help–the country desperately needs him. As Johnson tells it, an assassination attempt on the President of the U.S. is imminent, and only Swagger’s lethal skills and savvy expertise in long-range ballistics can halt the threat.

Swagger reluctantly agrees one last time to serve his country. What he doesn’t know is that the entire mission is a set-up by a dark government cabal with its own agenda. By the time Sawgger realizes the event has been rigged, it’s too late.

Suddenly, Swagger finds himself in the headlines as the lone gunman who tried to shoot the President. Hunted at every turn, with nowhere to hide and no one to help him except a mystified woman he’s just met (Kate Mara) and a novice FBI agent risking his career (Michael Pena), Swagger is in a desperate battle, one that will put everything he knows to the test. The clock is ticking as he tries to figure out who the real hit men are before they hit him.

Indeed, Swagger soon realizes that much more than his own survival is at stake, a result of his uncovering a devastating conspiracy at the very heart of American power.

Origins of Saga

The core of American value of honor has become a scarce commodity in today’s politically complicated and increasingly corrupt world. But it lies at the very heart of Bob Lee Swagger, the sniper hero of “Shooter,” who finds himself in the middle of his worst possible nightmare after he is framed as a Presidential assassin.

Trusted by no one, hunted by an angry, frightened nation, and haunted by his own past, Swagger must use every military, ballistic and psychological skill he has, and then some, not only to survive but also try to restore the honor that means so much to him.

Far more than his personal honor is at stake. His battle is also for the honor of the country he loves, as he finds himself caught in a dark web of deceit that reaches into the very heart of the U.S. government, which has been hijacked by a secret association bound only by its hunger for power and willingness to violate the public trust.

Swagger’s Heroic Character

“Swagger is a phenomenal American character who brings to mind cinema heroes like John Wayne and other classic Western characters,” observes producer Lorenzo Di Bonavnetura, whose many hit movies range from the sci-fi-thriller “The Matrix” to the comedy-actioner “Ocean’s Eleven” to Fuqua’s Oscar-winner “Training Day.” “His sense of right and wrong, and how he feels about what is justice, and what isn’t justice, are things you can really emotionally connect with inside this exciting conspiracy thriller.”

The character of Swagger first appeared in Stephen Hunter’s novel “Point of Impact,” which became a vest-seller due to its smartly plotted, authentically scary, edge-of-your-seat suspense. Publishers Weekly labeled the hero “a thinking man’s Rambo.” The book’s popularity launched a trilogy about Swagger that continued with the novels “Black Legion” and “Time to Hunt.”

Author Hunter (who also plays a small role in “Shooter”) always suspected that Swagger could be a movie character, but only if the story was approached correctly. He says: “Swagger is one of those extremely talented, dedicated, unbelievably courageous men than the movies have somehow never gotten right, even though they use him all the time. But I wanted him to be portrayed as he really would be, to show what’s great and inspirational about him, but at the same time, to capture his humanity and his complexity, his doubts and fears, as well. To me, the story asks: What is loyalty What is honor What is courage”

Those are the same questions that compelled screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin (“Lethal Weapon 4,” “The Devil’s Advocate”) to take a crack at bringing to the screen the tale of a good man caught in a dark web of lies and corruption. Other writers have tried before, but Lemkin found his own creative way to adapt the 550-page novel filled with minute detail of a sniper’s life and thought process into a tight, lean 120-page script.

Updating the Conspiracy Film

“We took a long time looking at early conspiracy movies and thinking about how to move that kind of style into the present day,” explains Lemkin. “I don’t know how many times we saw ‘Three Days of the Condor’ or ‘The Parallax View,’ but one of the things we were really trying to do with this story was to revisit that kind of classic conspiracy thriller in a very contemporary and current way.”

Inner-Directed Hero

Lemkin says “Swagger is the kind of man who never does something because someone else told him to do it, or because he thinks he should do it for someone else. He truly believes in honor and living by his own code of ethics.”