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Reviewer grade: D+

Settling into an implausible movie thriller is a bit like checking into a cut-rate motel room: Keep your distance and everything looks OK. Only on closer inspection will you notice the sooty walls and God-knows-what on the bedspread. It certainly doesn't pay to look too closely at "Shooter," a lunkheaded action-thriller in which characters alternate between inexplicable ignorance and unbelievable brilliance. Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a former top-secret government marksman who is called out of retirement to help thwart an assassination plot on the president.


But you don't need to be Oliver Stone to smell a patsy cooking on the grill, and soon enough Bob Lee is framed for the attempted assassination. Lots of thrillers demand some suspension of disbelief, but the preposterousness here might just require leaving your brain at the concession stand. But the movie doesn't work as junky fun, either, since "Shooter" is so desperate to be taken seriously. Peppered with simplistic references to Iraq and 9/11, this is political intrigue as imagined by people who aren't intrigued by very much. R


"?Phil Bacharach 

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