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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 Rob Gonsalves

"One of the year's best. No, I'm neither kidding nor high."
5 stars

Christmas came early. 'Shoot ‘Em Up,' mark my words, will become an eagerly-passed-around cult hit on DVD, where its fans can watch the hilariously unlikely stuntwork and gunplay over and over again, and skip-search past the boring stuff.

Not that there’s much to skip-search past, since writer-director Michael Davis has already done it for us. It’s a floridly nihilistic death comedy, but it’s also a satire of one, and no matter what level you approach it on — at face value as a Saturday-night action burp, or as a Saturday-night action burp between quotation marks — it works. It worked for me, anyway. I cackled happily throughout.

A man known only as Mr. Smith helps a pursued woman deliver her baby while returning the gunfire of her pursuers. He gets stuck with the baby. The bad guys want the baby. The man takes the baby to a hooker he knows, who conveniently specializes in wet-nurse fetishes. Many people die. Many more people die. Some people live, but we don’t see them in the movie. Clive Owen is the man — yes, in the “Clive Owen is the man” sense, too — Monica Bellucci is the hooker, and Paul Giamatti, who usually plays mousy losers, is the chief hit-man after the baby. Magnificent casting all around: each actor benefits from iconic shorthand. You don’t have to be told that Owen’s character is a gruff tough guy who still has some decency in him, or that Bellucci has as much heart as kink in her soul, or that Giamatti will surreptitiously fondle a dead woman’s breast between phone calls from his wife.

One other reason the casting is inspired: all three actors have played comic-book characters — Owen’s Dwight in Sin City, Giamatti’s Harvey Pekar in American Splendor, Bellucci’s whoever-she-was in the Matrix films, which were essentially comic books writ large. If your film-geekiness and comics-geekiness overlap, watching a Frank Miller hero face off against Harvey Pekar rings a lot of satirical bells, though, as always, I wonder how much more fun the movie might’ve been had the roles been reversed. But why complain? Owen and Giamatti were born to play these guys, and Shoot ‘Em Up feels as if they showed up on the set every morning full of ideas about how to funk up their usual personae. Owen is always chomping carrots, linking him with Bugs Bunny in this Looney Tunes universe (as I’m far from the first to point out), while Giamatti, bald and sporting ugly facial hair, is both Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam.

Shoot ‘Em Up (its very title as in-your-face, it-is-what-it-is as Snakes on a Plane) has racked up a lot of comparisons to the concussive cinema of John Woo, though it isn’t really playing the same game. Woo’s films are serious explorations of honor and loyalty; this film just wants to fling metal and splatter anatomy. The baby stops crying whenever heavy-metal music plays, giving Davis a reason to ladle lots of it onto the soundtrack. It’s a jock’s kegger party thrown by the chess club — it gets its blast from the precision and planning that go into the staging. Shoot ‘Em Up contains several ridiculous sequences, all freshly-minted classics, in which physics are bent, exploited, and flat-out flushed down the toilet. The gunfight thousands of feet in mid-air will go down as some sort of gleefully wanton masterpiece of action-figure logic.

At one point, Giamatti holds up two birthday cards, a sweet one with balloons and one with a bikinied babe, and wonders which would be more appropriate for his eight-year-old son. Shoot ‘em Up has a similar tension between innocence and sleaziness (Giamatti touching the dead woman’s breast has the air of a dorky little boy getting away with something naughty), just like Bellucci’s boudoir full of baby bottles and decked out with cribs for men who want to be babies. That brief bit with Giamatti and the birthday cards doesn’t advance the plot any, so I’m thinking that’s the theme of the flick right there: choose between balloons or boobs, between infantilism of two different kinds.

'Shoot ‘Em Up' lays them both out for us to see and laugh at, though it also can’t quite choose, either, which makes this one of the most honest films to roll out of a studio in recent years as well as one of the most scabrously entertaining.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15581&reviewer=416
originally posted: 09/09/07 17:16:20
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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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