Friday, December 03, 2010

“My god! Do we really suck, or is this guy really that good?”

Guns, guns, guns, guns. That’s the be-all and end-all of Shoot ‘Em Up, a hyper-stylistic, hyper violent action flick that carries around a hefty dose of black comedy. Its kind of a one trick pony in that regard, lets see if it’s a good enough trick to last the whole movie.

We have a pregnant woman being chased by gunmen who passes a homeless looking “Mr. Smith” (Clive Owen) who has a mysterious past, a surprising competence with firearms and a fondness for carrots. He intervenes in the struggle (by jamming a carrot through one thug’s head, which right there should tell you exactly what kind of movie this is). The woman gives birth but is killed and Mr. Smith ends up an erstwhile nanny for the baby. Turns out, it’s the baby the bad guys, led by Hertz (Paul Giamatti) want and we get one giant gunfight of a movie. Oh, and we also get an ally/mother figure in the shapely form of a prostitute named D.Q. (short for Donna Quintano/“Dairy Queen” and played by Monica Bellucci).

Directed by Michael Davis (who also directed personal guilty pleasure favorite 100 Girls), the movie certainly moves at a quick pace. The gunfights are pretty fun and provide a hefty dose of visual comedy. Physics does tend to get broken over one knee in this movie FREQUENTLY, so if that’s something you feel very strongly about, you’ll probably hate this movie. A lot. Still, the fights just go on into increasingly bigger and more audacious scenes, and the fight choreography is really solid too.

Written by the above mentioned Michael Davis. The writing has some funny lines and moments here and there, but its really a weak point of the film. The plot, if it can be called such, is insanely convoluted AND contrived and by the end of the movie. I called bullshit a few times. As far as a “message,” I don’t think there really is one. There’s kind of a half-assed anti-gun bit, but the movie’s answer to everything is to add more guns, so really, I think its just intended as a big, loud, stupid action movie with a nihilistic tone its violence.

Original music by Paul Haslinger, but the licensed songs that go along with the action scenes are a huge part of the awesomeness of those scenes, particularly Wolfmother.

Shoot ‘Em Up isn’t a particularly great movie. The writing is crude and juvenile at a LOT of points, but the three leads give it enough weight to make getting from Point A to Point B a reasonably fun ride. The movie is at its strongest during the plentiful (if not the actual bulk of the movie) and inventive action scenes. The schtick was enough to keep me entertained, but I know of several people who absolutely hated it. Approach with caution, I suppose.

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