Shoot 'Em Up (2007) (DVD)

shootem-babyA man sits on a bench drinking coffee and eating a carrot, a pregnant screaming woman runs by. As does a man wielding a gun prepared to shoot her. Mr. Smith is now involved. Thus begins a sudden mission to protect a newly born child from a massive conglomerate and a surprisingly interesting reason why this child is wanted. I theorized all throughout Davis’s raucous action comedy and really wasn’t prepared to find a devious plot as complicated and absurd as the one explored here. “Shoot ‘Em Up is yet another variation on “Lone Wolf and Cub” with a mysterious warrior leaving a body count in the triple digits to protect a child, and though Davis derives from the concept, “Shoot ‘Em Up” is its own twisted animal. There’s really no point in hating “Shoot ‘Em Up”; it’s a ridiculous, idiotic and fantastical cartoon mixed with a formula video game, and it makes no presumption to pretend otherwise.

It’s called “Shoot ‘Em Up” for Christ sake, what do you really expect? Smith is a Bugs Bunny hero, he’s an every man who is just trying to go his own way and is pulled into a situation involving villains and builds gags to outdo, outsmart, and outrun them even when the odds are stacked in their favor. Its John Woo meets Chuck Jones with a dash of Michael Bay, and yet I absolutely loved it you fucking fuckers. “Shoot ‘Em Up” is a movie for the guys, made by a man with a clear grasp on the sheer absurd and why action is such a delicious genre for even the most snobbish movie geeks like me. More so to those unaware, Davis’s film is also a slight spoofing of the genre providing some of the most unusual and ridiculous action devices you’ll see since the eighties. Carrots are used as knives, guns are propped in every apparatus possible, and a shootout merges with a sex scene.

Normally, I’d be so inclined to bash it at every turn, but it’s not meant to be an intelligent little action thriller, it’s an action comedy that never pretends it’s anything but a ridiculous fan boy wet dream. Clive Owen continues his emerging potential as an action star by grabbing the character of Mr. Smith and making this man his own. He’s a crusty, corny, and skilled warrior who really just falls into this violent situation, and Owen takes a bit of Dwight from “Sin City” along with Porter from “Payback” and creates a hilarious hybrid all while spouting clunky one-liners that are so bad they’re funny. Paul Giamatti is the least likely villain you’ll expect to see, but surely enough he’s our Elmer Fudd, a crotchety, smug, and vicious man who just can’t pin down that rascally Mr. Smith, no matter what he does.

The two play a considerably entertaining game of cat and mouse that really just amounts to whatever unusual gag Davis can concoct, and boy does he rise to the challenge. There’s also the resident grind house babe Quintano, played by the stunning Monica Bellucci who acts as a maternal balance for the testosterone battle of wills between the two thugs and the baby, and she plays well off of Owen. Davis stages some of the most exciting action sequences filmed since the glory days of blood splattered action cinema, giving us a skydiving shoot out, oil slick get aways, and Davis milking this genre for all its worth, and the fan boy who sat for hours watching Van Damne, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger thanks him for it. Is it stupid? Yes. Is it idiotic? Yes. But Clive Owen is a mean motor scooter and takes this role by the balls enhancing what may have been a really excruciating experience. In its essence it’s nothing but a violent live action Bugs Bunny cartoon and I dug it. I really did.