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Point of Impact

Point Of Impact - Stephen Hunter WARNING!!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ABSOLUTELY NO NUDITY WHATSOEVER!!!!I forgot all about this one! Not exactly a masterpiece, but okay. I read it in 1997. I've since learned that it was made into a movie, called "Shooter", starring Marky Mark... and maybe some of the Funky Bunch- I don't know. The main character is retired Vietnam veteran and Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger ("Swagger"? seriously?), but his nickname is "Bob the Nailer" ("nail her"?)... get it? Like he nails (i.e. successfully hits) every shot. Because he's a sniper. That's such a guys' fantasy nickname, isn't it? It's just brimming with machismo and fantasy adulation of one's adoring bros, isn't it? How embarrassing. The thing is, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Like:"Hey, everyone, has anybody seen Bob the Nailer around here? He's supposed to give me a ride to the aquarium."or "So me and Bob the Nailer were goin' to the aquarium..."Nicknames are supposed to be shorter and easier to say than the proper name. Anyway... Bob the Nailer is a good ol' boy, of the NASCAR and duck hunting variety. I'm picturing some older dude (I remind you: he's retired) like Barry Corbin (best known as the former astronaut on that 1990's show "Northern Exposure")Look at him. He's an older country boy type, with kind of a gut on him now... not some Hollywood prettyboy with a 6 pack, like Marky Mark.On the face of it, Marky Mark playing a retired Vietnam vet just seems ludicrous. Let's just add this to the list of projects which would have turned out better, if I'd have been in charge of them, shall we?Actually, I never saw that movie, so for all I know it's incredibly good, but I'll just assume Hollywood fucked it up, as usual.Anyhoo, Bob Swagger and his dog (because a good old boy needs to have a dog as his best friend, right?) are just living the outdoorsy life of retirement, but to make the plot go forward, there are some money troubles... not quite "money for Mom's operation", but close enough. I forget some of the details, having read it 15 years ago.The answer to Mom's operation money comes in the form of a serendipidous offer: some black ops government agency (read: CIA) has it on good authority that a former Soviet sniper is determined to assassinate some politician (the President? I forget.) So they want Bob to scope out all the places he will be making public appearances, in order to identify their vulnerabilities- for the purpose of enhancing security.This is the cool part of the book: all the planning and technical considerations which go into proper sniping. The angle of the shot, the prevailing winds, how the light will be, temperature and weather (because sniping involves a lot of sitting still until the perfect moment, you know?) I got the sense that this book was extremely well-researched, and it had a ring of authenticity to it, which was captivating. If this book is to be believed, real-life snipers can take down a target from over a mile away. Go find a straight stretch of highway to see what that distance actually looks like. You will be impressed. Professional snipers (I guess amatures are just called "murderers") sometimes have to sit/lay perfectly still for hours- up to 24 hours to get that one perfect shot. Firing over such distances, even a slight breeze can blow a bullet off course enough to miss a target, so these guys are trained to look for evidence of breeze... leaves moving in the trees, flags or other wind-sensitive indicators to adjust their firing angle accordingly. Even though this is murder we're talking about, the science of it, and the skill and determination of the guys who do it is impressive.Well, back to the plot... oh, I forget. Maybe I'm not the best person to be reviewing this book, huh? But it turns out that somebody was photographing Bob, as he investigated the various sites. In reality, they were setting him up to look like he (the decorated sniper, remember) was scoping out the sites, as if he were planning the hit on the President. So he has to go on the lam (lamb?) until he can prove his innocence.That's how these books and movies always are, aren't they? The heroes are just a bit too blameless. Bob's just a good ol' boy! He didn't want the money for personal greed! There was a good reason for it! And of course even though he's a sniper, he's all nonviolent, and got out of that biz, and just wants to be left alone now. Phbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb...Does anybody else find this simplistic good guys= white hats/ bad guys= black hats formula boring?To hell with nuance or iconclasm, I guess. It's like this guy: Apparently he's the villain in a recent Batman film. What utter lack of imagination to make this guy the villain. It takes no amount of thought whatsoever to take this guy for evil, looking all agressive as he does, what with the shaved head and that whatever thing on his face. (it looks like the sand people from Star Wars, doesn't it?) I don't even know what he does to make him the villain... burn down an ophanage? It doesn't matter; he's got a carburetor on his face. That's enough to make him evil. But if the Batman creators had been daring, they would have made the hero look like this. It's the boring mindless Rambo ethos that requires him to be evil.So.. we've got a one-dimensional "good guy", and a very black-and-white setup. What's next?Yup: a harrowing climax where the good guy utterly obliterates the bad guys, saves the day, saves the girlfriend (I forget all how she fit into this, but she's held for ransom or something like that).I do remember that a lot of the action in the finale takes place down in Ajo, which is a small community not far outside of Tucson. That was fun- a local shoutout for me, because I used to live down around there, but what I really wanted to know from the book was how Bob the Nailer felt about killing all those people. Also, I'm not sure why the title was Point of Impact.