johnlink ranks SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007)

I remember seeing this movie around the time it came out. I remember thinking it was kind of dumb. But I couldn’t remember if it was a dumb dumb or a brilliant dumb. So, looking for a high octane action movie to cap off a long week, I decided to give it a go in order to discern which it was.


I watched SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007) on 2.27.15. It was my second viewing of the film and first since 2007 or 2008.

SHOOT ‘EM UP starts with Smith (Clive Owen) munching on a carrot. This, you’ll soon realize, is an homage to another character who dispenses in violence: one Bugs Bunny. Because SHOOT ‘EM UP, to be sure, is an R-rated live-action cartoon. The opening scene gives us all we need to know. The first henchmen killed is dispatched with that carrot and the suggestion to ‘eat your vegetables’. Our hero then slides across an oil slick shooting multiple baddies and then delivers a baby amongst the following gunfire. The mother is killed and so he must protect the little guy from an uber bad guy, Hertz (Paul Giamatti), who wants them both dead.

Smith has no connections, so he sort of accidentally picks up a hooker who specializes in milking men, Donna (Monica Bellucci). They end up on the run with regular gunfights and car chases along the way to keep us interested. This is, no doubt, a male fantasy film which features Smith having sex with Donna while killing a bunch of intruders. He is so good at his job that he can complete both tasks without missing a beat.

Paul Giamatti legitimizes this movie. As the villain he is not above doing and saying horrible things. For much of the first act he has the dead mother riding beside him in the limo. This could be unwatchable, but Giamatti understands what the movie needs in order to be light enough to withstand the absurd darkness. While a movie like HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN has all the darkness with none of the restraint, SHOOT ‘EM UP manages to show restraint without being obvious in its doing so.

The movie is filled with great one-liners. To print any of them here would be to ruin the delivery of Owen and Giamatti, but both actors manage to make silly action schtick sound truly funny. For a script which so obviously deals in action movie cliches, writer/director Michael Davis does a nice job of making sure that SHOOT ‘EM UP is commenting on action movies while also being one. To call this movie the SCREAM of action movies would be to maybe do it too much service. While SHOOT ‘EM UP does a wonderful job of mining the tropes of the genre, it relies on them a bit too much to really be commenting on their absurdity. While SCREAM managed to be a horror movie which could both reference and revolutionize the genre, SHOOT ‘EM UP is content to reference and revel in the genre.

That said, SHOOT ‘EM UP uses its accepted lack of realism to build some action pieces which don’t have to be grounded in any type of reality. For SHOOT ‘EM UP, the style is the reality. There is no criticism to be made of lack of nuance when the movie so obviously rejects the concept of nuance from its outset. They do try and take a political detour in the final act, but that feels like a false bit which masks the true desires of the film. Sure enough, Smith is soon skydiving in a poor green screen environment, shooting a bunch of guys engaging in skydive-to-kill.

You go into SHOOT ‘EM UP wanting a certain type of absurdist action. If you expect any more you will be disappointed. But if you are content with letting this be what it is, you should have a really good time.




FINAL SCORE: 6.25 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on February 28, 2015.

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