Shoot 'Em Up
This movie is encased in spoiler proof carbonite
If you happened to miss 90s action films, then the well oiled machine that is Shoot ‘Em Up is for you. Fast shooting, groan inducing zingers and a huge pyrotechnic budget have merged to create a film so perfectly suited for that era, that now it’s kind of quaint like an MC hammer single or crystal Pepsi.
The frantically pieced together “story” is made up of about 97% action scenes, 2% naked Monica Bellucci and 1% crying baby. Clive Owen plays the wrong place at the wrong time anti-hero, Mr. Smith, who in a moment of conscience saves a pregnant woman from what appears to be an abusive boyfriend. Little does he know this woman is part of a larger conspiracy and by the time he realizes the baby’s importance, he is swept up by the torrent of combat. With the woman inadvertently shot and unable to properly care for a new born baby, Smith turns to Donna, Monica Bellucci, a hooker with a heart of gold and mammaries of some other exotic precious metal. And that’s all it takes to segue into a ninety minute shoot out.
This is truly the brain child of someone who the cornball post mortem one-liner. In true Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone or Bruce Willis fashion, Clive Owen takes on an army of Assassins, street toughs and an assortment of warehouse workers single-handedly. Smith is not only brutally lethal, he also dispenses some wretched lines: “Eat your vegetables” after impaling a goon’s throat on a particularly pointy carrot, “So much for seatbelts” after he kills a van load of men who cannot react fast enough because of their seatbelts and the list goes on. The first few are acceptable but when Smith uses them as thoroughly as he does then they just get lost amid the shooting.
Michael Davis steps up from teen comedies like, Eight days a Week and 100 Girls, to the action-comedy in a pretty average way. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but he also doesn’t deck them out with chrome and spinners so even though his film is nothing special he doesn’t really try to hide it. Dare I say, this kind of no holds barred approach is kind of refreshing.
To put it simply, this film is ridiculous and peculiarly charming. It’s not very different form the hordes of rotten, stinking action movies that are produced (Crank, Ultraviolet etc.) but it hits some chords that resonate. The cast, made up of some very talented actors, look like they are having a blast in the film and play their roles with ease. Paul Giamatti as a cartoonish super villain is much better than expected. There are also some reflexive moments that put the over-the-top scenes into perspective and get a few laughs.
But it’s hard to really like a movie like this because there isn’t much to hold onto. The characters don’t grow, learn or change, so in the end, they are doomed to continue in their respective patterns. The story is wholly forgettable. There are a few scenes that scream “freeze frame, fanboy!” but for Bellucci fans there are much better films in her catalog.
Shoot ‘Em Up is the kind of movie to watch on Tuesday night after wings and beer, not the sort of thing you watch for artistry or for provoking thought. The loose take on characterization and plot doesn’t quite anger the blood because the gun play is great and it’s kind of weird to see “serious” actors in such a goofy film. It’s a conditional 6/10 or two and a half out of five stars.