Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

Release Date: September 7th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Davis Actors: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk, Ramona Pringle, Jane McLean




he simplest description for “Shoot ‘Em Up” is that it is a live-action, R-rated, “Looney Toons” outing, stuffed to feature length with gratuitous, violent slapstick. To be more accurate, however, it’s the ultimate guilty-pleasure adventure for hardcore fans of the genre, more closely resembling a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner episode doused with blood, gore, torture, and absolutely nothing for kids. Wildly stylized characters, way over-the-top gunplay, and umbilical cord surgery via bullets marks “Shoot ‘Em Up” as decidedly explosive entertainment for only those who can stomach nonstop, almost completely mindless mayhem.

An expert marksman and something of a real-life Bugs Bunny, “Mr. Smith” (Clive Owen) just can’t mind his own business – especially when it comes to pregnant damsels in distress. After rescuing an infant from a gang of mercenaries, he becomes embroiled in a deadly conspiracy that involves gun makers, senators, and a maniacal hitman named Hertz (Paul Giamatti). Recruiting sassy French prostitute Donna (Monica Bellucci) to care for the baby, Smith shoots his way to the top of the food chain in a chaotic fight to uncover those responsible for the devious ploy.

Clive Owen’s Smith exudes cool; it’s apparent that this is his shot at being James Bond (director Michael Davis always wanted to direct a 007 film), and so he wrestles with every snappy one-liner, every weapon-toting pose, and every unflinching glare he can muster. But Paul Giamatti is the show-stealer, injecting his ruthlessly vile, wickedly intelligent, inept family man cum murderer with enthusiasm and cinematic nastiness. His role is constantly surprising, spontaneous, and augmented by batty, bearded grins. And third-biller Monica Bellucci drifts into the background, seemingly selected only for her willingness to do nude scenes. The remainder of the supporting cast is mere targets, thrown in front of machine guns and heavy firepower to keep the downtime to a minimum. Even sex scenes are blanketed by spent shells, spilt blood, and a touch of humor (not unlike Robert Rodriguez’ “Desperado”). While everything is markedly seedy and gritty, these antiheroes and villains fit perfectly into the underworld environments, primed to be ravished by bullets and car chases.

Some may consider “Shoot ‘Em Up’s” weakest component to be its ridiculous story, with numerous, robotic debriefings of plot twists. But that essentially skips right over the point. Davis’ film mocks the overly simplistic or oftentimes unintelligible storylines of run-of-the-mill, spook adventures, making no excuses for its own deliberate transitions and set pieces that roll from one action sequence directly into another. Much like the clever ridiculing of stereotypical horror films by Wes Craven’s “Scream,” the characters in “Shoot ‘Em Up” are self-aware of their positions in each scenario, and work to make it as defiantly unexpected as possible. There are certainly ironies and satirization in Smith’s vocalized dislikes for the normalcies regularly seen in the genre.

So much action permeates every second in “Shoot ‘Em Up” that to call it just an action movie would be a certain understatement. It is unrelenting bravado, manifested with a particularly brutal temperament and flourished by loads of dark humor; its eye-popping blend of hyper-violence, twisted comedy, and irrational exaggerations never stales throughout the relatively short running time. In its single-minded focus, the endeavor proves that carrots can be deadly weapons, limerick usage makes for better bad guys, and customarily irredeemable amounts of killing can be pardoned by saving the life of a babe (or two). And that having a plot isn’t a requirement for making an entertaining action flick.

– The Massie Twins

  • 8/10