Shooter (2007)

If the idea of a sniper disturbs you, then Shooter will certainly send shivers up, and down, your spine. This film stars Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover as we enter a world of sniper and countersniper.

Wahlberg plays Bob Lee Swagger, a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant whose expertise was in being a sniper- some say he is the best around. In the opening sequence, he and his partner take on a whole company of enemy soldiers, and force them to retreat in a scene that would be at home in any Rambo film. Disillusioned at how his country treats him afterwords, he retires to the beautiful Wyoming wilderness. In a scene reminiscent of FireFox, Colonel Isaac Johnson, played by Danny Glover and his crew of operatives show up to recruit Wahlberg back into duty. There is credible evidence of an assassination plot against the President, and they think it will be a sniper shot from way far off. After whistling some patriotic tunes, Glover gets Wahlberg to come back to civilization to protect the leader of the free world. Unfortunately for Wahlberg, he is being set up big time, and soon it is him against the entire FBI.

Warning: Science Content!

At one point in the film, Wahlberg takes a bullet in the right upper chest. While it is lower than the one in Babel, and thus the subclavian vessels would not have been traumatized. Still, even a small caliber bullet from a handgun into the chest would have been likely to cause a pneumothorax, which untreated is universally lethal. How does Wahlberg treat this on the run? First, he uses the military’s new super hemostatic powder to arrest the bleeding. Ok, that would probably work, although no one really bleeds to death from skin edges, or the muscles of the chect wall. Next, he decides to give himself some IV fluids via water, mixed with salt, piped through some tubing from under the car’s hood, and into the vein via a marinade injecting needle. This totally wouldn’t work- none of this is sterile, the sodium content of the fluid would be so wrong, it wouldn’t be leakproof, air could enter the tubing causing an embolism, and the needle looked too large for the vein, especially for inserting it yourself, and likely too blunt. As if this couldn’t get any worse, then he uses the gas from a can of Redi-Whip topping to provide anesthesia for his wound debridement. Again, nitrous oxide, even at 100% (which is impossible to administer because you’d asphyxiate from hypoxia), is simply not capable of providing general anesthesia. Finally, he uses sugar as a disinfectant for the wound, and while this sounds ridiculous, there are still a few in modern medicine that seriously use this technique. Overall, the medical details of the plot are in need of a serious dose of accuracy. For example, if they had made the leg wound more serious, and left out the chest and the IV, this all would make considerably more sense.

Leaving aside the medical details, Shooter is a great thriller. The plot moves along well, and there are enough twists and turns to keep your attention. It also makes a few references to the Kennedy assassination, and seeing how the facts and evidence gets distorted in this film makes one wonder what really went on that day when JFK was killed. Shooter is an action packed film for those that want a good modern day conspiracy thriller.

Overall Grade: B+ (It would have been higher if the medical details were more plausible).


topbeagle said...

again, love the medical analysis

digitaldoc said...

I'm on the lookout for more of this type of thing...