Mark Wahlberg Month #3: Ted & Shooter


In Ted, Mark Wahlberg plays John Bennett, a teenager trapped in a 35-year-old man’s body, enjoying life with his gorgeous girlfriend Lori and a talking teddy bear named Ted, with whom he’s had a special relationship since childhood. That is about to change, however, because Lori wants John to finally grow up and kick Ted out of his apartment. Mila Kunis stars as Lori, Seth MacFarlane provides the voice of Ted, with Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi playing the supporting roles. MacFarlane is also the director and the main screenwriter.

Don’t let anyone tell you Mark Wahlberg can’t do comedy! His relationship with Ted, the key part of the movie, is a complete success, mostly due to the wonderful chemistry between Wahlberg and MacFarlane. The screenplay is sharp but somewhat uneven, especially in the third act, where the movie inexplicably turns into a thriller at the expense of its (much more successful) comedy elements. The plot itself treads familiar ground, but it’s also smart enough to make fun of that when the situation calls for it.

When the movie works, it is a delight. MacFarlane brings the most laughs as Ted offends everyone and everything at sight and Mila Kunis does a lot with her somewhat underwritten role. Still, the true soul of the movie lies in Wahlberg’s nuanced performance, which is both funny enough to bring the laughs and convincing enough to give us a glimpse under his tough-guy facade.

Keep in mind Ted is definitely not a family-friendly comedy, as it can be quite crude and sexual. At its best, it’s also riotously funny.

Shooter

Shooter is based on Stephen Hunter’s thriller novel Point of Impact. The movie follows expert marksman Bob Lee Swagger (talk about a made-up name) who is recruited by Colonel Isaac Johnson to prevent the assassination of the USA president, but quickly learns that things are not what they seem. Mark Wahlberg is definitely not cast against type in the main role, with Michael Pena (Nick Memphis) and Kate Mara (Sarah Fenn) playing his closest allies and Danny Glover in the part of the Colonel. The movie is directed by an action thriller specialist, Antoine Fuqua.

The main draw of Shooter, other than the likable performances by its lead actors, are definitely the lovely choreographed action scenes. The movie opens with a particularly delightful sniper sequence and never lets go, its conspiracy thriller premise quickly giving way to furious gunplay. Wahlberg flaunts his action movie star persona at full display and makes the most of Swagger’s alone-against-the-world schtick.

As much as Shooter is obviously inspired by the ’70 political thrillers like All The President’s Men or The Parallax View, it fails to grasp the real message behind them. Instead, it merely uses its twists and conspiracy theories as en excuse for some more action setpieces, which makes the movie seem shallow and uninspired. Basically, what you see is what you get.

Shooter is a flawed, but ultimately satisfying revenge flick. If you feel like spending two hours on a Mark Wahlberg movie, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this one.

Shooter is based on the book “Point of Impact” in the Bob Lee Swagger series of books.

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