>> Shoot ‘Em Up (Brandon’s Review, 3/10)

main.jpgThose of you hoping for “Crank” or “The Transporter” levels of mindless, plotless action bliss won’t find much to admire in Michael Davis’ “Shoot ‘Em Up” a film that despite its hit the ground running, go for broke spirit is a catastrophic mess. Clive Owen is Mister Smith, a former pistol sports champion turned black ops guy turned bum who inserts himself into the middle of a hitman’s pursuit of a pregnant woman only to run afoul of Paul Giamatti’s Mr. Hertz and his band of disposables. After giving birth and being felled by a bullet in the head Smith is saddled with the role of protector and enlists the help of hooker with a heart of gold and a breast full of milk (Monica Bellucci) to keep the child alive. This would be a good time to point out that of the three principals Giamatti is the only one who looks to be having any fun, his performance is in the spirit of Gary Oldman in “The Professional” one of barely contained madness. Owen plays it way too seriously opting to recite rather than perform his lines (the script may have asked more of him physically, but, had he bothered to read it, he would know that stoic was the wrong way to play it) and Bellucci with her less-than-masterful command of English is simply the sexpot.

Michael Davis’ film wants to keep company it doesn’t deserve. It pays homage to Tsui Hark (a birth during a gun battle is reminiscent of “Time and Tide”) and John Woo (a man brandishing a gun and a baby while constantly engaging in firefights comes straight out of “Hard Boiled,” come to think of it Smith’s stoicism may be yet another nod to the film but let’s not get carried away with such blasphemy. Mentioning both films in the same breath is more credit than “Shoot ‘Em Up” deserves). “Shoot ‘Em Up” on the surface looks as if it desires to be in the vein of “Crank” and “The Transporter” but finds it’s closest cinematic kin in Michael Bay. At one point, Giamatti’s character stares for a beat too long at the breasts of a dead woman then remarks how nice her hooters are. If you consider the film as a whole: loud, stupid and overlong even at 87 minutes and something for which people may abandon their good sense and praise as the reason we go to the movies (see “Transformers” for proof that inexplicable things like that happen) then the argument for the second coming of Bay (in the worst if not every respect) is only strengthened. A scene on a rooftop in which a few well placed bullets turn a sign reading FAULK TRUCK & TOOL into a dirty visual joke (not to mention clear indicator of how Davis feels about his audience) is the kind of moment Michael Bay would kill to have in one of his films.

Davis’ sense of humor permeates the film and reveals itself to be full of not only bad visual jokes but a slew of awful one liners (the quip “eat your vegetables” follows one of the film’s many deaths by carrot). Furthermore, every scene feels the need to be some sort of a wise ass comment. When Smith goes to find the hooker with the breast of milk, a nun answers the door and we think he is going to see the only people he can trust but then the nun’s get-up ends up being ass-less and a further tour of the facility reveals it to be a brothel. The point of the scene isn’t the nudity so much as Davis’ acknowledging a cliche and subverting it. It happens again with a speech about how firearms are often accused of being surrogate penises (old news, by the way). There is even a sex scene/gunfight that climaxes at climax.

At the end of the day, “Shoot ‘Em Up” is the kid no one likes, who yells at the movie and always has something smart ass to say. For a second you think he might be cool but you turn away from and then you discover him beating your dog. “Shoot ‘Em Up” has no respect for the sanctity of action movies.

3 on a 1 to 10 scale

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1 Comment

  1. “After giving birth and being felled by a bullet in the head Smith is saddled with the role of protector”

    Mr. Smith is an incredible man.


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