'Shooter' Vs. 'Point Of Impact' Shows How The Book Has Been Updated For 2016
Does the plot of USA's new action series Shooter sound familiar to you? Maybe it's because you've seen the 2007 Mark Walhberg vehicle of the same name. Or maybe it's because you've got a thing for early '90s conspiracy novels. The show stars Ryan Phillippe as the deadly accurate sniper Bob Lee Swagger (a name also fit for a country music DJ or an adult film star), the very same character Wahlberg played in the movie. (Wahlberg is attached to Shooter as an executive producer.) Both the movie and the series have the same source material: the 1993 novel Point Of Impact by Stephen Hunter. How will the show Shooter be different from the book it's based on?
First of all, the book is over 20 years old and Shooter the series is set in the present. In Point Of Impact, Swagger proved his uncanny marksmanship while he was serving in the U.S. military in Vietnam. In the series, Swagger earned his reputation in Afghanistan. The recent AMC spy miniseries The Night Manager did a similar time shift; a Cold War conflict easily transferred to a modern context. The core of the Point Of Impact plot remains the same: Swagger is enlisted to protect the President Of The United States from a credible threat. Instead, he's framed for his assassination when a mysterious figure perfectly imitates Swagger's M.O.
I'm particularly excited about one change Shooter makes from both Point Of Impact and the 2007 feature. In both of those stories, Swagger's only FBI ally is an agent named Nick Memphis. (He's played by Michael Peña in the movie.) The producers of the USA show cast Cynthia Addai-Robinson (who you may know as Arrow's Amanda Waller) in the role and changed the character's name to Nadine Memphis. This is a welcome change, since otherwise, the only major female character in Swagger's world is his love interest. In fact, the series skips the courtship-under-duress plot all together. TV's Swagger is a happily married father ("he's a family man," says the trailer) with a wife named Julie played by Shantel Yvonne VanSanten who played Patty Spivot on Season 2 of The Flash.
If Shooter takes off and runs for several seasons, the writers won't soon have to worry about running out of adaptable Bob Lee Swagger plots. Point Of Impact is the first novel in a series. Stephen Hunter wrote a trilogy of books about the sniper, including Black Light in 1997 and Time To Hunt in 1999.
I'm curious to see how audiences will respond to a show with an artillery expert as its hero after the many mass shootings the world has endured in the last six months alone. In fact, the Shooter premiere was supposed to air on July 19. The Hollywood Reporter reported that USA initially opted to delay Shooter one week in light of the July 7 sniper attack in Dallas that left five police officers dead. Then the premiere was postponed again , this time till the fall. Shooter is based on a novel and a film, but its action may be too close to home for viewers fatigued by real-life gun violence.
Image: Dean Buscher/USA