Shoot ’Em Up
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Michael Davis
with Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Julian Richings, Greg Bryk, Daniel Pilon, Ramona Pringle, Tony Munch, Sidney Mende-Gibson, Lucas Mende-Gibson, Kaylyn Yellowlees
release US 7.Sep.07, UK 14.Sep.07
07/US New Line 1h26
Shoot 'Em Up
Makeshift family values: Owen and Bellucci

owen giamatti bellucci
Shoot 'Em Up With a thunderous pace and an outrageous level of violence and mayhem, this film blasts its way onto the screen, as the title suggests, dragging its reluctant hero into a series of increasingly ludicrous set pieces. So why is it so much fun?

Smith (Owen) is waiting for a bus when a pregnant woman (Pringle) runs past chased by a gang of thugs. He helps her give birth and kills all of the goons before their boss Hertz (Giamatti) arrives with an accompanying army, killing the woman in the process. From here, Smith takes the baby and runs, collecting a friendly wet nurse/hooker (Bellucci) along the way and eventually getting to the bottom of the political scandal that has marked this infant for murder. But if anyone gets out of here alive, it'll be a miracle.

While everything about this film is increasingly preposterous, Davis writes and directs with such a confident style that we can't help but enjoy ourselves. Every scene is packed with little gags--visually and in the dialog--while the frenetic action is shot and edited with a bracing coherence. If we don't believe any of this could actually happen, at least we know exactly what's going on. This alone is a vast improvement over most high-octane thrillers.

And we also have the terrific Owen front and centre, with his deadpan line readings, subtle facial expressions and a physicality that expresses attitude and emotion with every movement. He also sparks off Bellucci perfectly, continually undermining her emotional puppy-dog eyes with his snarky wit. And Giamatti chomps on the scenery with gusto as the extreme sleazebag baddie who apparently keeps platoons of expendable gunslingers up his sleeve.

There's nothing even vaguely serious going on here, and the only emotional resonance is provided by the makeshift father-mother-child trio, fighting for their right to survive in a politically and commercially corrupt society. But don't take that as an implication of subtext. This is after all a film that revels in over-the-top gunfights during childbirth, sex and while freefalling from a plane. Like last year's Crank, the film only exists to get your heart pumping. And to provide the solid laughter of disbelief.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, grisliness, sexuality 7.Sep.07

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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall