“Guns changed everything, and a bullet is forever.”
These words paint the overall feel of USA’s new sniper series, “Shooter” — and while Bob Lee Swagger’s (Ryan Phillippe) opening narration is a bit hamfisted, it’s possible the network has a new hit on its hands. Maybe.
Originally slated for summer release, “Shooter” — which is inspired by the 2007 Mark Wahlberg movie of the same name — was postponed not once, but twice. Given the sensitive subject matter of the series, USA gave the show multiple start dates — prompting generally the question of whether there would ever be a safe week for it — back in July, before pushing it back to Tuesday’s (Nov. 15) premiere date.
The blueprint behind “Shooter” is a familiar one, and while the series has given Bob “The Nailer” a different backstory than what was shown in the film, the same plot points are hit. Long story short: Bob — an ex-sniper whose war experience is really hammered home throughout the first 15 minutes of the episode, “Point of Impact” — is hired by the government to stop an assassination attempt on the president.
The problem? It’s all an elaborate setup to frame Swagger for the crime.
Tapping into his own haunted past with the alleged resurgence of a Chechen sniper by the name of T. Solotov, Swagger becomes putty in the enemy’s hands. But it’s this setup — tedious at times, lacking in emotional detail at others — that creates the pattern moving forward. And once the dominoes begin falling, the real promise of “Shooter” takes shape.
When all is said and done, the USA series is familiar in its military-flavored, cat-and-mouse chase. For lack of any better examples, we’re feeling that Bob Lee Swagger here could easily be the small screen’s next Jack Bauer, or better yet… Jason Bourne. The only hurdle standing in the show’s way are certain style choices — ones that would… Say, set a gun shooting montage against the best Top 40 rock music America has to offer? A late ’90s Tony Scott movie, this is not.
Then again, that formula may just as well work here: Sometimes you just want to see a bearded Ryan Phillippe — with a name like Bob Lee Swagger, it’s hard to ignore how aggressively American this show really is! — take down clumsy hunters one day, while doing his best to save our country from its own worst tendencies on another, all while wearing a tight undershirt, Muse crooning on in the background… There are many worse ways to spend a Tuesday night — and maybe that means it’s the right time for “Shooter” after all.
“Shooter” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.