A pretty good drive-in movie. I judge flicks a little differently when I’m sitting in the front seat of my car. I don’t cut them so much slack that I’d enjoy some of the brainless shit that comes along, but still, a C movie in the theater might be experienced as a B+ at the drive-in. This is a B+. It has its moments, and it has its gaping plot holes and lingering questions you don’t really want to look into too deeply. Such as, where did they get the money to buy all the stuff they use? Such as, how did they get to the top of that snowy mountain before the helicopters did? Such as, how did they drive from Eastern Virginia to Montana and get there in about 12 hours? Now, that’s driving! Google maps tells me this is about 2200 miles, which is 180 mph average, so wear your astronaut diapers and carry a big gas tank, ’cause you ain’t stopping.
Ignore all that if you can, and it’s a pretty good shoot-’em-up. It’s based on a story by Stephen Hunter, who is a hell of a good novelist, and also reviews movies for the Washington Post. (Be fun if he reviewed this one!) He and I would probably not get along, as he is a conservative, and a gun nut. Okay, maybe an “enthusiast.” He likes guns, and knows everything about them. His books are about the retired sniper Bob Lee Swagger, an Arkansas boy, and his father, who died when Bob Lee was young. The reason I like him is that I treasure expertise about any field, even if I don’t give a damn about it in real life (Dick Francis and horses), or actively hate it, as with guns. Hunter’s books revel in the fine points of shooting, and the stories are great, and almost believable, which is all I ask of any good thriller. This movie preserves a lot of the gun lore from this book Point of Impact, and keeps the main plot device of a man framed for an assassination, but changes almost everything else, for the worse. The best thing about it is the in-your-face acknowledgment that our government lies to us and we believe it, and it all but names Donald Rumsfeld as one of the chief liars. I don’t think this proposition would have sold very well 6 years ago, but now it’s easy to accept. “Weapons of mass destruction? Peace and freedom in Iraq? Shit, boy, it’s all about oil, and we’ll do anything to get it.” This from a US Senator before Bob Lee blows him away. Which is a nice touch. One down, 99 to go. But don’t neglect the Executive Branch, Bob Lee!
Mark Wahlberg was all wrong for this part. Should have gotten Scott Glenn, and we could have still had him be a Vietnam vet.