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If Antoine Fuqua's conspiracy thriller is meant to reflect our current national consciousness -- and script shout-outs to "Sunnis and Shi'ites" and oil wars suggest it is -- then we're seriously screwed up. Our hero is the cheesily named Bobby Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), a military-trained sniper formerly of various black ops and now a disgruntled patriot. The feds tap his flag-waving heart, then break it when they go rogue and use him as a patsy in an assassination plot. Swagger's recourse: Shoot to kill, even if the "enemy" is the justice system. The story is a short-changed mess with the whole thing dependent on a very canny dude falling for a patently obvious ruse. But, the plot is a mere frame from which to hang expected set pieces (car chase, kidnapping, explosions and bad-guy monologue) and dozens of lovingly filmed head shots. I can think of few things more cynical than rooting for the lone assassin, picking off our corrupt government figures one by one, even as a vicarious salve to our anxieties. Starts Fri., March 23. (AH)

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