Shooter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A fairly early Blu-ray, the image looked decent but flawed.
Sharpness became a moderate casualty, as the image could be a little soft at times. This didn’t turn into a consistent issue, and most of the film exhibited nice delineation, but occasional elements lacked the expected delineation.
No issues with jagged edges occurred, but mild moiré effects cropped up periodically. I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.
Like most other modern action flicks, Shooter relied on a sense of orange and teal. While the tones didn’t excel, they seemed appropriately rendered.
Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots offered good clarity and delineation. Though this always remained a more than watchable presentation, the occasional softness made it a “B-“.
I felt pleased with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Shooter, as the movie’s many action sequences allowed the soundfield to shine. From the opening battle in Ethiopia to car chases and other gunfire scenes, the mix opened up well to use all five channels to very positive effect. Elements engulfed us naturally, blended smoothly, and moved well.
Audio quality was quite strong. Speech always remained crisp and distinctive, and I noticed no edginess or other issues. Music appeared lively and robust, while effects followed suit. Those elements seemed clear, accurate and dynamic. Bass response was deep and rich. Overall, this mix added a lot to the movie.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Both employed the same Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, which came as a disappointment. Because the Blu-ray lacked a lossless option, I docked the soundtrack a little.
As for the visuals, they got a format-related boost, as sharpness, colors and smoothness improved. Although the Blu-ray didn’t hold up well compared to newer releases, it still topped the DVD.
The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras, and we open with an audio commentary from director Antoine Fuqua. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. Fuqua goes over story and character choices, cast and performances, attempts at realism, sets and locations, cinematic inspirations and technical choices, stunts and action, cinematography, and other production subjects.
Does Fuqua cover all the expected topics? Yes – I can’t fault the breadth of what he discusses.
Does Fuqua create a memorable or involving chat? No, not particularly.
The director goes over the material in a somewhat dry manner and lapses into silence a little too often. He gives us a perfectly serviceable chat, but it never turns into anything especially interesting.
A featurette called Survival of the Fittest: The Making of Shooter lasts 21 minutes, 50 seconds. It brings notes from Fuqua, author Stephen Hunter, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin, military technical advisor Patrick Garrity, and actors Mark Wahlberg, Michael Pena, and Kate Mara.
The show looks at the original novel and its adaptation, what drew Fuqua and others into the project, sniper training and military elements, action scenes, locations, and the movie’s tone.
“Survival” doesn’t do a lot to elevate itself above the “electronic press kit” level. Nonetheless, it includes enough information to succeed. The best parts come from the notes about military pieces in the film; these add good background. Overall, this is a decent featurette.
Next comes a featurette entitled Independence Hall. This seven-minute, 20-second piece includes remarks from Garrity, producer Ric Kidney, park rangers Don Stanko, Lawrence McClenny, Holly Johnson and Cherie A. Butler, and park superintendent Dennis R. Reidenbach.
“Hall” includes notes about the Philadelphia location, with an emphasis on historical facts. That makes it a tight little encapsulation of those areas.
Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 51 seconds. We find “Nick Memphis Intro at FBI” (2:37), “Timmons in the Alley” (1:12), “Sarah and Swagger Discuss Conspiracy” (1:26), “Extended Shopping Scene” (2:48), “Swagger and Memphis At the River” (0:48), “Swagger and Memphis Driving After Farmhouse” (1:15) and “Swagger and Memphis in Hotel Room” (1:42).
Some of the scenes offer information handled more efficiently in the final cut. “Intro” is fun but not necessary to tell us that Nick’s the new guy, and “Timmons” and “Conspiracy” work better in the flick’s quick recaps.
The three “Swagger and Memphis” clips come across as a little preachy; they get into political thoughts and make matters too explicit. I will admit I think “Shopping” should have ended up in the movie, though. It adds some much needed humor to the Swagger character and shows us how he and Memphis amassed their arsenal for the climax.
The disc ends with the film’s trailer, which the DVD lacked. The Blu-ray does drop other previews found on the DVD, though.
Mark Wahlberg shows uncommon signs of life as an actor in Shooter, an intriguing and gritty action flick. Imbued with a sense of Seventies paranoia along with its violence, the movie turns into a stimulating affair. The Blu-ray presents excellent audio along with a roster of decent extras and mostly appealing visuals. I like the flick and think the disc deserves a look.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of SHOOTER