USA’s Shooter Wasn’t Worth the Wait


Shooter Series Premiere Plot Summary:

The Secret Service turns to Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) to prevent the President’s assassination by another skilled sniper that Swagger has a history with. Based on a novel by Stephen Hunter and the film of the same name.

Here we are, the Shooter series premiere, after two delays by USA following two prominent real life shootings. I had planned to review this show a while back so it’s a little weird to finally be here. I do have to wonder though if there would ever be a good time to premiere it. I mean, the country just went through a contentious election and now we’re airing a show about someone trying to kill the President. Maybe I’m looking into things too much. Probably.

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/USA Network
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/USA Network

I was initially surprised to hear that USA was even making a show based on the movie Shooter. Hollywood loves to tap into previous material, but the Mark Wahlberg movie wasn’t that huge a success. Marky Mark is producing the show though, so I guess he gets what he wants. Interestingly, the critics sensed a left-wing vibe with the movie, but I’m getting more of a right-wing vibe with the show. But that’s just an observation.

Shooter debuts in a TV landscape that doesn’t help differentiate itself from the crowd. Thrillers like it are particularly popular, with shows like Designated Survivor and Quantico. 24, the king of the genre on TV, is also coming back early next year with 24: Legacy. Even NCIS and its spinoffs dabble in this kind of stuff. To make matters worse, the premise of Shooter is very generic.

Swagger is the stereotypical expert that lives in the middle of nowhere who the government brings in to stop a threat it can’t handle. Oh, and he blames himself for his buddy’s death. And the same sniper who killed his friend is trying to assassinate the President. Convenient. Plus, Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Nadine Memphis reminds me too much of Maggie Q on Designated Survivor.

Something that does work in Shooter’s favor is its attention to detail concerning ballistics and firearms. How varying equipment and the environment can change a situation and the chances of success is fascinating. Hunters and members of the armed forces will tell you that guns are precision tools. You have to respect the skill that goes into operating one correctly. They’re not toys. As Bob Lee says, “A bullet is forever.”

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/USA Network
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/USA Network

This is assuming the makers of the show actually did their homework. I don’t know much about firearms. If the show is actually spouting nonsense at any point, feel free to let me know.

Despite the respect for the military, one scene that strikes me as odd is one in which Bob Lee tells his daughter (Lexy Kolker) tales from his tours overseas as bedtime stories, to her delight. I didn’t grow up with a parent in the military, but I’ve always gotten the impression most veterans don’t like to talk about what happened. Plus, we tell our kids stories that might have some death and sadness but they’re not real. Isn’t it disturbing then for a kid to enjoy hearing about it for real? I’m asking, because I don’t know. Maybe Bob Lee shields her from any horrors he faced.

Bottom line, if you like to learn about how firearms work and tactical decisions, give the episode a shot and make your own decision. But if you’re like me and that’s not enough for you, you’re not missing much; I expect a predictable season ahead.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Average)


Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky

Aaron Sarnecky is The Pop Break’s Television Editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of staff writer Josh Sarnecky. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed.