Sunday, April 4, 2010

Archive: "Shoot 'Em Up" (2007)

Just look at the title of this movie: "Shoot 'Em Up." What do you expect? This entire movie contains everything you would expect any trashy action movie to have...except overdone even more. That's the rolling joke of the movie, which is a clever send-up of every over-the-top action flick ever. The action genre itself has evolved into a self-parody over the years with increasingly spectacular and unbelievable stunts, signature tag lines, and the hero's impeccable accuracy with any firearm that happens to be nearby. Writer-director Michael Davis recognizes all of this and then proceeds to pump it up the next level...and then some.

Take this opening scene for example: The hero, Mr. Smith (Clive Owen), is sitting on a park bench when he witnesses a pregnant lady being chased by a group of thugs. In between bites of his raw carrot, he mutters, "Fucking hell," lazily gets up, and follows the lady being pursued. He protects the woman in a hail of gunfire, delivers her baby, and severs the umbilical cord with a gunshot. He then rams his carrot through his enemy's throat and out through the back of his head. "Eat your vegetables," he says. Mr. Smith hates a lot of things, but he likes carrots, eats them throughout the movie, and also uses them in many other violently creative fashions. In a sense, the movie is like a deranged Looney Tunes pumped-up on steroids.

Clive Owen looks pretty comfortable running around with a baby in his arms while people are shooting at him because that's what he did throughout the majority of "Children of Men." Smith takes the baby to a friend of his, DQ (Monica Bellucci), who happens to be a lactating hooker. The leader of the bad guys chasing them is Dr. Hertz, played by a surprisingly nasty and evil Paul Giamatti. He's the perfect guy for the role, believe it or not, and puts hilarious emphasis on phrases like, "God DAMN it!" He's exasperated, sadistic, and profusively sweaty. Owen plays his character absolutely straight, which ultimately works, and he delivers his one-liners after each kill with incredible ease: "That ponytail doesn't make you look young, hip, or cool."

To say the movie has a plot would be using the term loosely. I guess it has something to do with a senator running for president and needing the bone marrow of infants who are conceived through artificial insemination. And there's Mr. Hertz and his men who want to eliminate the baby so the senator can't use it to his benefit. And then there's something about a gun company. But, whatever; these "plot" points are simply excuses to have non-stop obnoxious action sequences. The point is this: Smith shoots at a carousel the infant is on to keep it spinning so Hertz can't nab it; Smith jumps from a roof, shoots at a car's sunroof as he's falling, only to land in the seat and proceed with a high-speed chase; and then while Smith is having sex with DQ, they get interrupted by a team of assassins, but not actually interrupted because while still doing the act, Smith mows down the villains holding a gun in one hand and his lover in the other. After he says, "Talk about shooting your load."

Somewhere Quentin Tarantino is scoffing to himself, and maybe Robert Rodriguez, too. "Shoot 'Em Up" is joyously offensive, crude, delirious, filthy, giddy, and a whole hell of a lot of fun. There's a warped sense of humor here that runs throughout the entire movie, which makes each scene a lot better than it probably has credit for ever being. And besides, after seeing it, just try wiping that stupid grin off your face. I have a feeling this film is going to be remembered in the murky depths of junky action parodies. See it if that's what you're looking for because if it is, well then, you've found yourself quite a good time.

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