Controversial Mark Wahlberg Film Based on Real Sniper Climbing Netflix's Top 10

Controversial Mark Wahlberg Film Based on Real Sniper Climbing Netflix's Top 10
Image credit: Film 44

Ah, if only the sniper had put as many holes in the enemy as the screenwriter did in the story...


  • In 2007, a movie starring Mark Wahlberg was released that told the story of a sniper who was confronted with a sinister conspiracy by American politicians.
  • Despite the intriguing premise, the movie actually turned out to be quite ridiculous due to the abundance of illogical decisions and plot holes.
  • But that didn't stop it from becoming incredibly popular on Netflix.

Netflix is an amazing place, as the streaming service regularly sees movies and TV shows that were thought to be forgotten, not just because of time, but intentionally neglected, skyrocket in popularity. In 2007, for example, it released the Mark Wahlberg starrer Shooter, which adapted a popular novel into a conspiracy thriller genre, but was also... incredibly stupid. It caused quite a bit of controversy at the time of its release, and even now, 17 years later, it is not uncommon to come across criticism of the movie.

But that didn't stop Netflix users from really enjoying it, as evidenced by the sudden spike in ratings that allowed Shooter to break into Netflix's Top 10.

What Is This Action Thriller Starring Mark Wahlberg About?

Shooter is based on Point of Impact, a conspiracy thriller novel published in 1993. It was written by American author and film critic Stephen Hunter, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2003.

The film was directed by Antoine Fuqua, known for his unconventional and high-octane action films such as Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, and The Equalizer trilogy. The screenplay was written by Jonathan Lemkin, who previously co-wrote 1997's The Devil's Advocate, also an adaptation of a novel. Besides Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Danny Glover, Ned Beatty, and other international stars also appeared in Shooter.

But back to the plot. Like many other post-9/11 action movies, Mark Wahlberg once again took on the role of a combat veteran, this time a popular character from the Hunter novels, a former USMC Force Recon Scout sniper with the most epic name, Bob Lee Swagger. According to the story, Swagger lives a secluded life in the Wind River Range, dealing with the traumatic aftermath of serving in Ethiopia, where his scout and friend was killed due to the incompetence of his superiors.

One day, U.S. Army Colonel Isaac Johnson visits the protagonist and offers to act as a sniper during a meeting between the U.S. President and the Ethiopian Archbishop. But things go wrong when the archbishop is killed and Swagger is framed for the president's murder. Thus began Swagger's journey of vengeance against Johnson and the more powerful forces behind the conspiracy.

The Film's Finale Caused No Small Amount of Controversy

Unfortunately, the final revelations in the movie left many viewers bewildered and even outraged, as they turned out to be incredibly ridiculous and caused a lot of plot holes. First, it turns out that Archbishop was actually the main target for trying to expose American war crimes in Ethiopia — why didn't he do it before?

Second, at the end, the main villain of the story was on the loose (for completely dumb reasons)...only to be killed in an equally dumb way by the main character, who then simply rode off into the sunset.

And third, the audience found some of the decisions excruciating: for example, why did Swagger have to do a 200-meter shot standing in a raging river when there was land only a few meters away?

And Yet, the Movie Made Its Way to the Netflix Top 10

Despite all the criticism it received for being disposable and even brain-dead, Netflix's global audience is rediscovering it with no small amount of delight, as Shooter has suddenly found no small amount of success. On March 19, the action thriller starring Mark Wahlberg unexpectedly broke into the Global Top 25 in an impressive fifth place, making it one of the most-watched movies on Netflix overall. It also made the top 10 in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada (where it debuted at number three!), Mexico and Spain.

The next day, March 20, Shooter continued to hold its very solid position around the world. As of March 21st, it continues to hold its places in the top 10 of the above countries.