In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, USA
In the UK: Wednesdays, Netflix
The biggest problem with Shooter – USA’s adaptation of the 2007 movie of the same name, in which a retired marine (Ryan Phillipe) is falsely accused of an assassination and must find the true culprits to clear his name – is that it’s educational. Yes, educational.
I say problem because you’ll end up knowing an awful lot about guns after each episode. At some point in each hour, you’ll get an awful info dump from Phillipe about some new weapon or other (“the pistol grip on that shotgun reduces your control and may cause you to spray shot into her gut”) that’s both impressive and yet simultaneously a bit upsetting – like a neighbour who can tell you in forensic detail exactly what you did every single moment of the day in chronological order. Even when you thought you were alone. And were at work.
But like that neighbour who might otherwise be quiet, keep to himself and always mow his lawn, if you can overlook the one problem, you might get on well. Shooter, like its antecedent, is actually a pretty fine thriller.
While the first episode was more or less identical to the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, providing almost no surprises whatsoever, episode two was an intriguing “what if he’d turned right instead of left?” embellishment to the movie that still ended up at more or less the same point by the end, but which fed in a whole new bunch of parameters, allies, enemies and situations that made the whole thing just a little bit more realistic and expansive than the movie. It also made Phillipe’s wife (Shantel VanSanten from The Messengers and The Flash) a little more interesting and gave Cynthia Addai-Robinson something to do other than glower.
Episode three in turn is the beginning of Phillipe’s hunt for the bad guys and their hunt for him, and it dials the tension up several notches with some smart moves on everyone’s parts. It also added to the show’s already pleasantly conservative tone, giving us all manner of ‘brothers and sisters in arms’ moments that should make you swell with patriotism, even if you aren’t American.
Where the show falls down a bit, oddly enough, is its action scenes – or at least its fight scenes. Never has a marine been so incompetent at fighting. In a day and age when pretty much every action show has an ex-military advisor on hand, Phillipe appears to be at almost yellow-belt status in dealing with the enemy, barely able to muster a competent o-soto-goshi, let alone give us any proper marine corps martial arts.
If you like a decent thriller, with reasonably sensible plotting, a decent cast and decent characters, then Shooter‘s a good show to watch. If you love guns, you may even love it*. It’s just a shame nothing about Phillipe really says ‘top marine sniper’, particularly his fighting.
Barrometer rating: 2
Would it be better with a female lead? If it was Gina Carano, sure
TMINE’s prediction: Will certainly last a season
*Although for all I know, it might be making it all up, in which case you won’t