Shooter: Was USA Network's Sniper Drama Worth the Wait?

Rebecca Iannucci
TVLine.com

If you’ve been anticipating the Ryan Phillippe drama Shooter since USA Network announced its development, this Tuesday night marked the end of a very long wait.

Based on the Stephen Hunter novel Point of Impact and the 2007 Mark Wahlberg film, Shooter was pushed back twice from its original July 19 premiere date, due to real-life gun violence in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

So, was the show’s eventual launch everything you’d hoped?

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The series premiere introduces us to Bob Lee Swagger (Secrets and Lies‘ Phillippe), an ex-Marine and expert marksman who ran snipers for the Corps. Now living on a beautiful piece of waterfront property with his wife and daughter, Bob Lee mostly uses his gun know-how these days to set wolves free from hunting traps. That is, until he’s approached by Capt. Isaac Johnson (House‘s Omar Epps), a longtime friend who worked with Bob Lee in the Marines and is now a Secret Service agent.

Johnson informs Bob Lee that a CIA agent was recently gunned down — and the government’s top suspect is T. Solotov, a Chechen sniper that Bob Lee tried to capture while in the Middle East… only to have his spotter and close friend Donnie shot and killed by Solotov in the process. When POTUS receives a letter from Solotov, promising an assassination in 21 days, Johnson needs Bob Lee’s help to circumvent the threat.

Throughout the hour, Bob Lee gets way inside Solotov’s head, piecing together the exact place, time and angle that the assassination attempt will likely occur. He buys ammo. He scouts out three separate locations that Solotov might be in when he pulls the trigger. The government even sends him a replica of Solotov’s rifle, which Bob Lee uses to predict exactly how the shooting will go down. But when the big day arrives, and the president emerges from his car, Bob Lee realizes he’s misjudged the situation, and Solotov isn’t where Bob Lee thought he was going to be.

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Panicked, Bob Lee makes a mad dash to where he thinks Solotov will be camped out. But when he arrives in that room, Bob Lee finds only a rifle set up on a table, and no one else. He discovers via TV news that the assassination did occur, and he did nothing to stop it. Even worse: Bob Lee was being set up this whole time. It seems he was never recruited to help prevent an assassination; rather, the assassination is getting pinned on him. (And, conveniently, his face is now all over the city’s security camera footage, which shows him purchasing bullets, taking diligent notes at various locations around town and generally looking suspicious for the last several weeks.)

Finding himself cornered at gunpoint by a cop (and in an increasingly sticky situation), Bob Lee jumps out a window, crashing onto a car below. Once on the ground, an FBI agent tells him to put his hands up — and it’s then that he cries, “My name is Bob Lee Swagger. I did not kill the president.”

USA Network was smart to shelve this series for a while — and it could be argued that the time still isn’t right for Shooter, given the prevalence of gun violence and current political climate. But if you’re a fan of government-centric mysteries, Shooter is certainly for you — and the premiere episode is just intriguing enough to work.

What did you think of Shooter‘s debut? Grade the premiere in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice.

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