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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.64%
Just Average: 25.45%
Pretty Crappy: 5.45%
Sucks: 16.36%

5 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Shoot 'Em Up
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by Jay Seaver

"Certainly delivers what it promises."
3 stars

I've never met the man, but I'll bet if someone asked him, Michael Davis would come out against editing the guns out of Looney Tunes when they aired on broadcast TV. Unless, that is, the writer/director of "Shoot 'Em Up" sees his violent live-action cartoon as an eighty-minute long piece of sarcasm, which isn't out of the question.

It opens with its nameless Bugs Bunny figure, played by Clive Owen, munching on a carrot at a bus stop when a pregnant woman runs by. She's followed by a man, who draws a gun as he turns the corner to follow her. Well, crap, that's not right. One carrot-induced death later, Bugs is delivering the woman's baby. A whole mess of other killers show up, and while the woman doesn't get away, the man and baby do. The crew of men chasing her is led by Hertz (Paul Giamatti), who soon chase "Smith" when he brings the baby to prostitute Donna Quintano (Monica Belluci), who is currently servicing lactation fetishists. Much violence ensues, but Smith is better with a gun than the roughly five thousand hired killers chasing him put together.

This is an unabashed guy movie, perhaps the guyiest guy movie ever made. The soundtrack is almost all hard rock or heavy metal. It offers up plenty of blood, guts, and mayhem. Smith and Hertz speak almost entirely in tough-guy one-liners and fire off enough ordinance to make a Hong Kong-era John Woo proud. The plentiful gunfights operate based upon a set of physical laws generally only found in cartoons. There are a number of wacky Rube Goldberg devices and complicated remote-control setups. And even more than in most movies, the female lead is literally there for her breasts (although this can be said of many Monica Bellucci roles that don't involve hungry newborns).

The movie is so over-the-top that a certain part of the brain insists that it must be parody or satire - Davis actually has the chutzpah to try to make this a gun control story; he even has Smith sarcastically snarl "aren't guns cool?" at a bad guy when the basic appeal of the movie thus far has been "cool gunfights". Pretty much every line that comes out of the characters' mouths is cringe-worthy, so much so that it almost has to be deliberate - he's trying to make a point of how trying too hard to be cool is lamer than anything else you can think of, right? This is a massive joke .

And maybe it is, except... The action scenes are pretty damn good. They're absurd, sure; Smith does ridiculous things with his ever-present carrots - which have apparently improved his eyesight to the point where he can make absolutely ridiculous shots - and there is no way that a bullet from a handgun could start a playground carousel spinning like it does. They're so fast-paced, inventively choreographed, and well-shot that the craziness becomes a point in their favor: Anyone can make a gunfight that makes some sort of logical sense work; it takes a special sort of insane talent to make this happen. Davis is also pretty good about laying out just enough plot to get by so that things hold together in the brief periods between action scenes, and he doesn't try to pad things beyond their natural length. I suspect that Davis can walk the walk, but talking the talk eludes him.

That kind of hamstrings his cast. Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci are exactly the people you would want for their respective roles: Clive Owen makes a fine badass curmudgeon, certainly giving off the look of someone who can handle himself in a gunfight. Paul Giamatti is an angry little weasel. Monica Bellucci is built to incite lust like few others. They just aren't given much chance to express themselves well. Giamatti at least can make it work for him; he makes the fact that his individual lines aren't that great work, as if Hertz is embarrassing himself a little, trying to look cooler than he is.

"Shoot 'Em Up" is the sort of movie that might be legitimately critic-proof, though - it delivers the goods in one area well enough that if you're looking for gunfights, the way it falls somewhat short in other areas is irrelevant. It's kind of like a Jackie Chan movie with a lousy plot that way. Still, just think how good it could have been if the dialog and story was as snappy as the action.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15581&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/11/07 20:01:02
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User Comments

6/05/15 MatthewThompsonDalldorf I'd give it a thumbs up, but I'm afraid they'd be shot off 5 stars
4/17/11 fartvenugen Complete garbage - layers upon layers of stupid 1 stars
5/18/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Great Black Comedy/Action hybrid! 4 stars
2/10/09 dude great action 5 stars
1/07/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
8/05/08 mr.mike Relentless action grows tiresome , and Owen lacks charisma, unlike J Statham. 3 stars
6/17/08 I-K What is wrong with you people? It's a pisstake. Isn't it obvious? 5 stars
5/28/08 matthew This is the new Commando, a laugh riot 5 stars
3/05/08 Vinny I usaully agree with this critic, but the bullets & cock-rock hit it's mark 4 me. 5 stars
2/20/08 Servo This movie made me dummer ... dumber? Crap!! 2 stars
1/20/08 mb loved the action 4 stars
1/13/08 Brian Mckay Max Payne meets a classic Jackie Chan flick - utterly ridiculous, highly entertaining 4 stars
1/12/08 Danny For this type of a movie i preferred Crank. Even the action scene's weren't that great. 2 stars
1/10/08 Matt Oh man, what a blast! Absolutely brilliant, total entertainment. And those carrots...!! 5 stars
1/09/08 AJ Muller Like tribute and parody all at once, but totally delivers. Insanely over the top fun. 5 stars
1/02/08 action movie fan good action but silly story weaken potential good movie 2 stars
10/23/07 William Goss Over-the-top and lively action romp. 4 stars
9/19/07 Johnnyfaye Forget plot, forget art, just go and have fun. 5 stars
9/19/07 Ole Man Bourbon The Bugs thing got old, but the movie was silly fun. PS I'm probably missing some cells. 4 stars
9/18/07 GIA Utter rubbish, you have to be devoid of brain cells to enjoy this crap. 1 stars
9/18/07 Jiz I think "absurd" describes every aspect of this movie, had a few great scenes though 3 stars
9/17/07 Quigley Some great action, but you have to suspend belief on a grand scale. Clive rocks! 4 stars
9/11/07 Rich Great action! Lots of laughs! 5 stars
9/09/07 "steve" This was a action movie, cheesy one liners and all, and it was a good one at that. 4 stars
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  07-Sep-2007 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jan-2008



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