“The Patriot” and “Enemy of the State”
meet Dick Cheney on the grassy glacier (9/10)
Great timing now that the Blackwater corporate army has been running amok in Iraq and generally showing the real purpose of that conflagration. As Alan Greenspan states in his recent tome, The Age of Turbulence, it is all about oil, silly! More precisely, it’s about power: seizing revenue from oil and other natural resources for one’s crony-capitalist sleazeballs… all the while chillingly wrapping oneself in the Flag (and/or the Cross).
In Shooter, the Conglomerate’s (C’s) farflung contractor army—as well as coopted US military forces—inflict horrific damage on local populations in their worldwide operations. In particular, C’s merchants of death have wiped out a village in Africa that hesitated to make way for an oil facility. In the opening scene Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) and his spotter shoot several “bad guys” from a mountain nearly a mile away. Swagger does not know the connection between these targets and the C’s operations.
Screenplay by Jonathan Lemkin
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Mark Wahlberg … Bob Lee Swagger
Michael Peña … Nick Memphis
Danny Glover … Colonel Isaac Johnson
Kate Mara … Sarah Fenn
Rhona Mitra … Alourdes Galindo
Ned Beatty … Senator Charles F. Meachum
To make matters worse, the C abandons Swagger in hostile country. He manages to escape, then promptly retires and retreats to a mountaintop cabin in the Rockies. Swagger does have electricity and Internet hookup: one of my favorite early sequences is when Swagger—after his dog grabs him a beer from the refrigerator—fires up his browser to the Google news page and utters, “Let’s see what lies they’re trying to sell us today.” The book conspicuously lying (pun intended) next to his computer is the 9/11 Commission Report!
You guessed it: Swagger is a true patriot who has become disillusioned with his government and basically doesn’t believe the official story about anything. Still, when Colonel Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover in his most sinister role) comes calling to enlist Swagger in a special mission to protect the president, Swagger falls into a ‘love of country’ argument.
This film is “more fun than when the pigs ate grandpa.” It has more action frame for frame than most movies in the genre, at the same time including deep character realizations.
Moreover, director Antoine Fuqua does a fabulous job making the action sequences believable. The motivations of the principals are similarly believable, as we proceed to the climax of a confrontation as morally stark as the graphic-novel movie Sin City. I can’t remember an action movie, perhaps Last of the Mohicans, in which I so deeply identify with the good guys and wish to see them succeed.
Why is that?
Probably because what is most compelling is you have a hero dealing with bad guys who are so damned real, so entrenched in all aspects of the current imperial American State. As I mention to a fellow watcher, “This isn’t like the James Bond movies where there was always some legitimate law enforcement agency you turned the bad guys over to. Here, everyone elevated in the government is either criminal, weak, or bought off.”
What’s a retired sniper to do?
The ending is thoroughly satisfying, providing enough emotional fuel to get us through the next 15 months of the vile Bushovik regime.
On a critical level, I especially want to compliment all the actors for delivering such a taut, entertaining masterpiece. This is an uplifting movie for radical libertarians! It certainly won’t appeal to Republicans partial to corporatism. Interestingly, Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics are less than 50% favorable toward the film, which to my mind suggests most of the critics are as clueless, not to mention gutless, as your average Democrat.
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