Sunday, January 13, 2013

Levon Helm in The Shooter

Levon’s last movie was a bit part but interesting character in the 2004 Hollywood movie “The Shooter,” about a former USMC sniper who is recruited to come out of retirement to help save the president from an assassin. Sound familiar?

After his best friend and spotter is killed on a mission gone bad in Ethopia, the protagonist leaves the service and lives in a remote wilderness cabin with his hound dog, until this special mission comes up.

Rather than save the life of the president however, he is set up to be the fall guy and patsy in the assassination of the President of Ethopia in Philadelphia, but unlike Oswald, he gets away and sets out to get even with those who framed him.

With the help of a disgraced FBI agent he sets up an elaborate scheme to trap those responsible, not only for the assassination, but for killing his friend and his dog.

He also learns that he was on the wrong side in his last official mission, working on behalf of the oil moguls and against the real freedom fighters in a foreign country.

But after getting away, was it really worth it to go after the really bad guys engrained in the US government, who include a powerful U.S. Senator?

When it comes down to just getting away or getting even, he sets the record straight, “You don’t understand – they killed my dog.”

Well, at least he has his priorities right.

In “The Shooter” Levon Helm plays “Mr. Rate,” a retired legendary shooter who is sought out for counsel by the renegade sniper on the lamb.

When asked about a bullet not leaving a mark that can be traced to a specific rifle, Levon refers to a 1877 text book by “Schoefeld” that discusses “paper-wrapped bullets” as not leaving such marks. “State of the art, over 100 years ago.”

“JFK was a bad job to take” he says, because “those boys on the Grassy Knoll were dead three hours later, buried in the desert,” He knows he says, “because I still have the shovel.”  

As for the government, he says: “They also said artificial sweeteners are safe, there’s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Anna Nicole marries for love.”

Some other words of wisdom include the advice: “The world ain’t what it seems, and the moment you think you got it figured out, you’re wrong.”

 Many of the assassination scenes were shot in Philadelphia. 

Another interesting aspect of “The Shooter” is the implication that the standard means of countering a sniper is to have another sniper shoot him, as Ian Fleming so aptly demonstrates in one of his last short-stories “The Living Daylights,” in which 007 is assigned to kill a Soviet sniper who was to shoot a defector as he ran across the Berlin Wall border.

From a window in a tall building facing the no-man's land between East-West Berlin, 007 watches some women in an orchestra, one particularly attractive one carrying a cello case. When it comes time to snipe, he is surprised that the Russian sniper is the women cello player. During WWII, many of the best Russian snipers were women, and Fleming's sister played the cello. 

God Bless Levon for all the good music he gave us, and for that last bit part in the movie The Shooter. 


  1. Levon's last movie was, "The Electric Mist" where he played General Hood in 2009.

  2. God Bless You Levon. You were a true patriot and America could use a few more just like you sir.