After the depressing experience of reliving the “what ifs” and the “could have beens” of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy, I felt that I needed something a bit off the wall. Well, you can’t get much more off the wall than the Clive Owen starring “Shoot ‘Em Up”.
The plot follows the mysterious Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) who inadvertently ends up with a baby in his care. Thing is, there seem to be quite a few people who want the child dead, especially “businessman” Hertz (Paul Giamatti). Along the way, Smith recruits prostitute D.Q. (Monica Bellucci) to help him care for the baby. Yes, the plot is naff- but in a film like this, the plot is shoved aside for set pieces and loud noises. I would normally complain about this, but the difference is that “Shoot ‘Em Up” is well aware of what it is doing and carries on shamelessly. “Refreshing” doesn’t cover it. The three lead actors are fine. They seem to get the odd tone of the film and play to it, especially Paul Giamatti-who spends 80% of the film gleefully snarling, like a dog with peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth.
Before we go further, let’s analyse the title. It’s not called “The Death Zone”,”Time to Kill 2″ or anything shite like that. It’s called “Shoot ‘Em Up”- a clear indication of the kind of meta-level this film is on. This isn’t the sort of film with quotable dialogue or amazing twists. It’s a John Woo film (hard)boiled down to the basic elements.
The action is superb. Every sequence is designed to give you a chuckle one minute and a surprise the next. Nearly all of which are set to music like Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” and Wolfmother’s “The Joker and the Thief”. It’s completely nuts, but at the same time extremely likeable. Plus, it has a gunfight in nearly every scenario possible. There’s a gunfight in a warehouse, during a car chase and in a bathroom. Doesn’t sound that groundbreaking? Well, what if I was to tell you there’s a shoot-out during a birth, a shoot-out in mid-air and even one during a sex scene?
I have two main problems with this flick. As it’s quite a small film, budgetry restraints are quite evident here and there. The ideas are great, but I got the feeling that sometimes the director just didn’t have enough scratch to fully realise his blood-soaked vision. The second is a problem that most video games suffer- repetition. You might think it a bit odd for me to suddenly start talking about gaming, but that’s what “Shoot ‘Em Up” is. It’s the film equivalent of a bloodthirsty video game. I mean “Shoot ‘Em Up” is even a genre of game! As I was saying, repetition is a problem. I loved Smith killing a man with a carrot the first time I saw it because it was fresh, funny and fucked up in equal measures. By the second and third times I wanted to see something new- strangulation by a grapefruit, perhaps?
“Shoot ‘Em Up” is an unashamedly fun film. What I love about it is that it’s the sort of film readers of “Nuts” and “Loaded” will think is amazing, blissfully unaware that it’s mocking them the entire time.