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Point Of Impact V. Shooter - Book/Movie Comparison

Updated on July 10, 2010

The Movie: Shooter

I saw Shooter by chance and was captivated.
I saw Shooter by chance and was captivated.

The Book: Point Of Impact

I read Point Of Impact after having already been impressed by the movie.
I read Point Of Impact after having already been impressed by the movie.

The How

I used to work at Barnes & Noble and one of my co-workers often used to comment on how good a writer Stephen Hunter was. Having heard many recommendations about good writers, I wasn't about to surge into a frenzy of reading his books, especially seeing as I predominantly read non-fiction. However, because this particular person was way above average in intelligence, it was always something that stuck in my mind.

Fast forward a few years and I happen to be sitting around at my in-laws and I started watching Shooter with my father in law. I had never heard of it before and was amazed because I was gripped right from the start until the end. When I saw in the closing credits that it was based on this particular book, Point Of Impact, by Stephen Hunter, my memory of the old recommendation came right back into my head. My mission to read the book had begun: Although I feel that seeing a movie before reading a book is the wrong way round in that it somewhat spoils the read, I felt I needed to see what the authors original intent was. It wasn't long before I had a copy of the book and it was an even shorter time span that saw those pages turn.

Not surprisingly, I much preferred the book. This is almost always the case when I experience both versions of a story. I can't think of a movie that I have enjoyed more than the book version.

The What

In the book, Bob Lee Swagger is a reclusive Vietnam Vet who lives out in the middle of the boonies with his dog. He seems gruff, quiet, and obviously a little older. The movie version of Bob is a veteran from a more recent fictional conflict and, as such seems younger and cooler. This makes sense for the purposes of marketing but I think I still would have preferred the book version. Most of the other characters remain the same except for the Colonel Shreck (book) who becomes (Johnson) in the movie, presumably to avoid conflict with the animated movie. I thought they should have changed the name Nick Memphis which I always found rather daft sounding.

Most of the other changes are justified in that they help the movie stay compact. There is no way to fit everything from a book into a movie and they did a great job of keeping the excitement without cutting things out. There are a few events that were cut out and the major climactic action sequence nearer to the end, although basically the same, has been simplified for dramatic effect.

Both versions of Bob convey the kind of character you don't want to mess with and definitely someone you want on your side.

I thoroughly recommend both the book and the movie and, in this case, I don't think watching the movie first will spoil anything for you when you read the book. Rather, seeing Shooter first might even make you want to read Point Of Impact more.

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