New Line Cinema
Written and Directed by Michael Davis
Produced by Susan Montford and Don Murphy
Cinematography by Peter Pau
Edited by Peter Amundson
Music by Paul Haslinger
I’m going to give you the best recommendation I can give you for SHOOT ‘EM UP and it comes from my wife Patricia. We went to see this movie and I was fully prepared for her to hate it. 86 minutes later the credits are rolling and I asked her what she thought of it.
“I loved it.” Says she, taking me totally by surprise and yet again reminding me that I should never be so arrogant as to presume to predict what a woman will think.
“What did you like about it?” I ask.
Patricia smiles at me and says quite seriously: “I like a movie that gives you exactly what the title says it will give you.”
And she’s right on the money: SHOOT ‘EM UP is exactly that and nothing more: a series of gloriously over the top, spectacularly inventive and violent shootouts that is hung on a plot so bizarre and outrageous that it leaves you with only two options: sit back and have a good time or just eject the DVD and watch another movie. Really. SHOOT ‘EM UP is just that kind of movie. It makes no apologies for what it is. You either just have to go along or go home.
Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) is sitting on a bench waiting for a bus, eating raw carrots when a bleeding pregnant woman runs past him. Five seconds later a bunch of guys with guns in a car screech past him, waving guns out of the windows and following the pregnant woman. On an impulse, Mr. Smith follows and in a devastating gun battle wipes out the guys in the car and delivers the baby, severing the umbilical cord by firing a bullet through it. The mother catches a round through the forehead and Mr. Smith goes on the run with the child. He’s being pursued by Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti) a former FBI forensic profiler gone bad who now leads a team of badass gunslingers whose only job is to recover the child Mr. Smith is now caring for.
Mr. Smith enlists the aid of Donna Quintano (Monica Belluci) a prostitute whose specialty really comes in handy: you see, she fulfills men who have breast feeding fantasies. So Mr. Smith offers her $5000 dollars to breast feed the baby while he goes about the business of annihilating the army of killers Mr. Hertz sends after him and maybe while he’s doing that he can find out why everybody seems intent on killing this baby.
If I told you that Mr. Smith eventually learns that the baby is tied into a dying Presidential candidate whose life can be saved only by the bone marrow of infants and his campaign is being bankrolled by a arms merchant you’d call me crazy. But it is what it is. SHOOT ‘EM UP is the kind of movie that John Woo used to make before Hollywood wrecked him. It’s a ‘movie’ movie if you know what I mean. It makes no pretensions at being realistic. It throws the most improbable characters, situations and plot twists at you and you either say; “What the hell, I’m having fun” or you say ‘Screw it.” You kinda get what writer/director Michael Davis is going for in the first confrontation between Mr. Smith and Mr. Hertz when they’re pointing guns at each other while Mr. Smith, who is chewing a carrot says; “What’s up, Doc?” and Mr. Hertz responds with: “You wascilly wabbit, you” Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti are playing live action versions of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd who are really trying to kill each other with no bullshit.
Clive Owen is one of my favorite actors and he is obviously having a fun time playing the stone-faced hero who can escape from any situation and who handles a pair of 9mm Berettas almost as good as Chow Yun Fat. He and Monica Belluci make a great team as the dysfunctional surrogate parents of the child that they have inherited and there is something honestly redeeming about the way they determine to protect this child. Paul Giamatti is the one actor who is having the best time in this movie. It’s so unlike anything he’s ever played before and you can see it in his eyes how much he’s enjoying himself. And yeah, Giamatti makes for one great bad guy.
And how about those gunfights? Take it from me: every single gunfight in SHOOT ‘EM UP is good enough that any other director would have ended his movie with any of them. But here, they come one right after another. Just when I thought the one I just saw was so outrageous that it couldn’t be topped here comes another one that not only thrilled me with the sheer energy and audacity of the choreography but made me giggle like a schoolgirl as well. The daddy of ‘em all has to be the gunfight that takes place between Mr. Smith and a dozen assassins who have all jumped out of a plane and are plummeting to the ground while blasting away at each other. It’s a sequence that absolutely has to be seen to be believed.
So should you see SHOOT ‘EM UP? If you’re an action movie junkie like me, you probably already have. SHOOT ‘EM UP doesn’t have a single realistic moment in the movie. But I enjoyed the hell out of the fact that the actors and filmmakers were willing to throw everything out the window and just have a good time telling a really out there story and do it with incredible action and their collective tongues firmly in their cheeks. SHOOT ‘EM UP gives you exactly what the title says it’ll give you and if you expect any more than that then you paid your money for the wrong movie.
Rated R for graphic violence and language. And I mean it. There’s an extraordinary amount of violence here as well as a pretty graphic torture scene near the end. And don’t even get me started on the scene where Clive Owen and Monica Belluci are having sex and he has to fight off half a dozen guys trying to kill them and continue having sex with her. They tried to copy this scene in “Drive Angry” but trust me, SHOOT ‘EM UP does it way better.