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Thomas de Zengotita Headshot

Must See Movie: Shooter

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Ok, I saw this movie yesterday, on impulse, just plugging into my retrograde and boyish American male love of bang-bang action movies--and lo and behold what did I find? A really smart bit of left wing (I'm for it!) propaganda aimed at the Bush administration, the Iraq War and, especially, Dick Cheney.

I awoke from my movie stupor and got alert to the sub-text when it sunk in on me that there was Danny Glover lending himself to this enterprise. There he was in the role of a sinister ex-military contract-mercenary leader serving some sinister political-corporate cabal and exploiting and betraying our down-home, working class, pick-up truck, gun-loving, ex-military sniper hero (Mark Wahlberg)--who, I began to realize, represented all those brave men who got snookered into this war under false pretenses and ended up in Walter Reed. I thought, wait a minute, Glover is one of the Hollywood people who is seriously politically committed, like Sarandon and Robbins--what's he doing in this flick?

Well, there are so many details. I can't possible cover them, they are so subtly deployed. From the look and accent of the love interest girl, to the cars and trucks that Wahlberg drives, to his dog and his clothes and his hat, to the 9/11 Commission Report next to his computer, to Levon Helm comparing the notion that there were WMDs in Iraq to the idea that Anna Nicole married for love, to the Middle Eastern/South Asian looking FBI agent (named Nick Memphis) who joins Wahlberg in his quest for justice.

What I don't understand is that the reviews of Shooter in the NYTimes, the LATimes, and the Washington Post (I just checked them) don't mention this dimension to the movie at all. Are the reviewers that out of it? Or are they joining the movie's agenda by pretending not to notice? I really don't know.

But I'll sum it up this way: see the movie and tell me that Ned Beatty, as Montana Senator Charles F. Meachum, isn't doing an SNL version of Dick Cheney. Then reflect on what happens to him in the movie.

We are all entitled to fantasies of vengeance. But some of us, like thee and me, don't act on them--and that makes all the difference.