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It's finally time to welcome Mark Wahlberg into the upperechelon of action-movie stars. After shooting, bombing and punching his way out of more hopeless situations in his latest flick than MacGyver, the Boogie Nights star has earned himself a spot next to cult heroes Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Russell. The difference is, Wahlberg has mixed in some credible dramatic work in getting there.

Former military sniper-turned-mountain-recluse Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) gets roped into helping avert a presidential assassination attempt then pegged with the crime himself when a shot is fired. On the run, he enlists the help of a former partner's girlfriend and an FBI agent who believes his innocence—then he breaks a lot of arms and shoots a slew of folks in the head.

It's intelligent for a shoot-'em-up flick, which isn't surprising since it's helmed by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. (If you recall, Denzel Washington scored his second Oscar under Fuqua's direction.) Michael Pena, best known as the door repairman from Crash, is impressive as Wahlberg's wet-behind-the-ears sidekick, while Danny Glover, who in advancing years now sounds like he has gauze in his mouth, plays a convincing government official with questionable morality.

After starring in last year's Best Picture winner, The Departed, and recently celebrating his 36th birthday, Mark Wahlberg seems poised to finally leave his juvenile work behind him and take the reins as a successful—and believable—Hollywood leading man.