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  • Shoot ‘Em Up
    • Shoot ‘Em Up
    • Runtime:86 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-22 19:23:00
    • Director: Michael Davis
    • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Thriller
    • Studio:


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Shoot 'Em Up is the adolescent version of jangling shiny keys in front
of a baby. Except instead of shiny keys, it's people getting shot in
extravagantly choreographed fashion.

The story opens with a guy named Smith (Clive Owen) watching a pregnant
woman in labor waddle past, running away from a guy with a gun. Smith
goes to help the woman and ends up in a gun battle where he blows away
a whole bunch of men and delivers the baby at the same time. He even
shoots the umbilical cord to cut it after the baby's born. Yeah, it's
that kind of movie. The kind where the good guy can shoot the testicles
off a flea at 100 yards and the bad guys have the aim of nearsighted
Sleestaks or Imperial Stormtroopers with their helmets on backwards.

Anyway, the mother gets killed and Smith winds up protecting the baby
from a seemingly endless number of gun toting thugs, all led by this
guy named Hertz (Paul Giamatti). Hertz is sort of like this evil
Sherlock Holmes (and no, I don't mean he's like Professor Moriarty) who
is constantly on his cell phone, talking to his wife and kids back
home. Smith takes the baby to a lactating hooker named Donna (Monica
Belucci). Smith and Donna used to have a relationship that wasn't all
business and she refuses to help him or the baby at first. That lasts
about 3 minutes before Smith, Donna and the baby are all on the run
from Hertz and his army of incompetent gunmen. It turns out the baby is
part of a scheme involving a gun control-loving U.S. Senator and a gun
manufacturer. The scheme doesn't really make any sense, but it's just
an excuse to have Smith shoot a truly ludicrous number of people on his
way to saving the baby, Donna and his own soul.

This movie is like a live-action version of a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Except instead of an anvil falling on Wile E. Coyote's head, people get
shot and blood explodes out of them like they were shaken cans of pop.
Smith is constantly chomping on carrots in an obvious allusion to Bugs
Bunny. And Paul Giamatti actually looks more than a bit like a bearded
Elmer Fudd. So, I guess if you ever wanted to see a cartoon where Bugs
is a mass murderer and Elmer gropes the breasts of a dead woman, this
is the movie for you.

For myself, I don't understand the point of this movie in particular
and this sort of alleged entertainment in general. It is at its core,
violence pornography. I don't mean violent pornography, where women get
beat up or something like that. What I mean is that just as a porno
movie shows you sex to get you excited, Shoot 'Em Up shows you
intricately staged acts of simulated violence to elicit very much the
same reaction. This sort of thing shows up in waaaay too many action
and horror movies nowadays, where the movie doesn't want you to have an
emotional reaction to the character who's either suffering from or
inflicting the violence. It wants you to have an emotional reaction to
the violence itself. I'm not Dr. Phil or anything, but there's
something messed up about that.

Putting the generally skeevy nature of this film to the side, Shoot 'Em
Up does start out fairly strong. The first 20 minutes or so reimagines
the action movie as music video. It's all striking images and nonstop
movement, set to a continuous dance mix. After that, though, the movie
loses its way. Oh, there's still some crazy scenes after that, like a
skydiving shootout, Smith gunning down a slew of attackers while he
never stops having sex with Donna and a MacGyver/A-Team scenario where
Smith has to construct a series of insanely complicated booby traps,
but it falls back into being a traditional, clichéd action flick. We're
supposed to care about Donna because she lost her baby and we're
supposed to care about Smith because he lost his family, but these
characters are nothing but cartoons. As over the top as some of the
film is, it fails because it doesn't go far enough. Instead of just
being completely absurd, like having the baby pick up a gun and start
blasting away, the film tries to be serious and dramatic like an
ordinary movie. But the cartoonish stuff keeps you from caring about
the ordinary stuff, and the ordinary moments only emphasize how dumb
the cartoonish elements of the story are.

As far as the acting goes, Giamatti chews a little scenery and Clive
Owen treats everything in the movie with the same intense seriousness,
which actually makes his performance even funnier. Monica Belucci,
though, is not good at all. She can barely spit out some of the dialog
and, frankly, she looks like a real hooker waiting around for the
director to finish so she can get paid.

And I don't know if I'm just getting older, but I'm really starting to
get annoyed with how movies like Shoot 'Em Up take the laws of physics
and run them through a paper shredder. I'm not even that scientifically
knowledgeable, but there's a garbage truck load of things in the movie
that are so insultingly impossible that even the Mythbusters wouldn't
bother with them. Maybe it's just me, but when absolutely anything can
happen in a movie, regardless of logic or the physical limitations of
space and time, then nothing that happens in the movie can have any

I can't really say that Shoot 'Em Up is a bad film because it kind of
goes beyond the concepts of good and bad. It is what it is. If you like
this movie, I don't want to judge you…but it would be cheaper for you
to simply sit in your easy chair and jangle some keys in front of your


I'm very jaded when it comes to movies and television, and action films
like this tend to be a dime a dozen, but what sets this one above the
rest is some genuinely unique scenes, most of which involve carrots.

Yes, carrots.

My only quibble are scenes where it is too obvious they are trying to
not show the female lead's nipples when she is topless. The overtness
of camera angles, positioning of the actors, and abrupt edits are a bit
too jarring during breastfeeding scenes and a gunfight scene -while-
the two leads have sex, whereas there is full frontal nudity of other
actresses, making me wonder why they would hire an actress opposed to
nudity for a script that requires it.

Other than that, I'd like to thank the people who made this movie for
surprising me at least a half dozen times and showing me things I've
never seen before.


"Shoot 'Em Up" is like a First Person Shooter game come to life. The
main character (in this case, a man named Smith) basically runs around,
shooting countless (and nameless) bad guys with a shockingly wide
assortment of guns, knives…and carrots (!). All while performing
stunts that are so outrageous that they border on lunacy.

A man named Smith (Clive Owen) is sitting on a park bench, eating a
carrot when a woman in labor comes running by, screaming in terror.
She's pursued by a guy whose intentions toward her are probably not
pleasant (the fact that he has a gun drawn encourages this assumption).
Anyway, Smith decides to be a model citizen and help the woman out.
Then more guys show up, all are intent on killing the baby for reasons
yet to be revealed. Smith takes care of them as well, and after the
mother is dead, he goes on the run with a newborn baby in tow, and
recruiting a lactating hooker (Monica Bellucci) to feed the kid. What
ensues is a blizzard of bullets, blood and carrots.

Smith is one cool cat. Not only is he able to shoot just about anything
with any gun with precision accuracy, but he takes the term
"multi-tasking" to a whole new level. The things he does while firing a
gun must be seen to be believed. The character doesn't stretch Clive
Owen's range at all, but Owen is brings the right amount of
"badass-ness" to the character. Paul Giamatti has a lot of fun
venturing onto the dark side, and he proves that even a minimalist
character actor has what it takes to do some scenery-chewing. The only
one who doesn't work is Monica Bellucci. Bellucci is a terrific
actress, but either she misinterpreted the part, or she wasn't right
for it.

"Shoot 'Em Up" reminded me a lot of "Run Lola Run," another movie where
plot and character take second fiddle to energy and action
(successfully, I might add). Those who liked Tom Tykwer's debut film
would do well to check this one out.

It's a great movie to watch on DVD. It's too over-the-top to be taken
seriously on any level, and that's what makes it so much fun. I enjoyed
it a lot more than I expected to.

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