A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mature, graphically violent political thriller about vigilante justice includes shots of men being shot in the head, with their brains and blood flying everywhere. One man kills himself, and there are two images of characters being tortured. There are also photos of people buried in a mass grave, and it's implied that the central female character has been tortured and raped. The movie's extensive discussion of political corruption might confuse and/or disturb kids (even teens). Overall, there's no attempt at diplomacy, and violence is shown as the only option.
What's the story?
Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a government-trained sniper with a keen eye for accuracy and a long memory. Destroyed by the fact that the government left him behind in Ethiopia and by his best friend's death in a gun fight, Swagger has retired into the far reaches of the mountains. But then Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover) comes calling, asking Swagger to defend his country from an imminent presidential assassination. Soon, Swagger is consulting on how a marksman would shoot the president -- only to be shot twice himself and then accused of the attempted assassination. Along the way, FBI agent Nick Memphis (Michael Pena) starts to unravel the weak case against Swagger, and eventually the pair find themselves facing down the U.S. military. But can they stop the bad guys and get justice for the people unfairly killed in Africa?
Is it any good?
With a name like SHOOTER, you wouldn't expect this political thriller to be sedate and dignified. But you also might not anticipate the extent and graphicness of the movie's violence -- or its unrelentingly depressing message. Over-the-top violence aside, Shooter is determined to sell viewers on the belief that the U.S. government is rotten to the core. By the time Senator Charles F. Meachum (Ned Beatty) says "There's always a confused soul who thinks one man can make a difference, and you have to kill him to convince him otherwise," viewers aren't surprised -- they're nauseated.
That's not to say there aren't fun things about Shooter. It's like a combination of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, MacGyver, Syriana, and Rambo. People who love shoot-em-ups, explosions, and car crashes will be in heaven (no pun intended). And Pena is a standout as the sharp-minded recent academy graduate. He provides the heart in this otherwise bloody-but-heartless film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why these sorts of violent movies are appealing. After a movie like this, how do you feel? Do you feel more or less safe in the world? Is the violence necessary to convey the movie's message? Why or why not? Families can also discuss how to react when you're unhappy about how the government is acting. If you believe, as Bob does, that the government is corrupt, how do you deal with that? What are the options? What do you think of Bob's choice?
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