Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up

Michael Davis | 2007 | 86 mins | USA

Let me say right off the top that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I want to make that clear, because there are certainly valid complaints about it that could be brought up and have been in other reviews. I just happen to think that those reviews missed the point a bit.

There are several things about Shoot ‘Em Up that, had I been in a different frame of mind while watching it, would have infuriated me. If, for example, I’d been expecting a taut psychological thriller full of complex, bullet proof plot twists, I might have been annoyed by the film’s break-next pace and frequent corny gags.

Fortunately, I wasn’t watching an intricate suspense film, I was watching a shoot ‘em up. As one of those, this film delivers in spades.

The action begins at minute one, when a woebegone looking Clive Owen decides to follow a pregnant woman who’s being pursued by a gang of thugs into an empty warehouse. Owen springs into action, taking the woman’s gun and annihilating the bad guys in a variety of cartoonishly satisfying ways while she goes into labour. Somewhere between the moment at which he drives a raw carrot through a man’s eye and the moment at which he shoots the newborn’s umbilical cord to sever it, I realised this film would totally rule.

The story revolves around Owen, an anonymous good Samaritan who takes it upon himself to protect the innocent babe with the help of a lactating hooker named DQ (played woodenly by Monica Bellucci – I guess it’s harder to spot bad acting when it’s in another language, because I’ve seen her in several Italian films and didn’t realise until this one how terrible she is). In hot pursuit is Paul Giamatti, incredibly creepy as the mysterious Hertz, single-mindedly focused on killing the child.

There are a lot of weird lactation jokes in this movie, and a lot of Bugs Bunny gags (Owen’s Mr. Smith eats raw carrots throughout – they’re a shtick, but also an occasional lethal weapon). Somehow, this makes the film no less enjoyable.

As the convoluted plot unravels (something about a dying politician and some anti-gun control fanatics), it becomes clear that what we’re waiting for here isn’t an M. Night Shaymalan-esque twist ending to make us roll our eyes or fall out of our seats. It's Clive Owen jumping out of an airplane and shooting guys in freefall, or destroying a SWAT-team’s worth of assassins while fucking Monica Bellucci in a hotel room.

Like last year’s Crank, this films provides the roller coaster thrill of non-stop action with no filler. It's 86 minutes of good times.

Canada’s own Stephen McHattie co-stars as the gun factory owner, Hammerson. Personal confession: I have an inappropriate crush on him, even though Clive Owen is obviously the heartthrob here.

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