Gleeful gunplay propels this live-action cartoon starring Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti

Shoot 'em Up

on September 07, 2007 by Susan Green
Bang! An instant cult hit, Shoot 'Em Up is a wildly energetic yarn calculated to score with juvenile fans of extreme but cool cinematic violence. Influenced by ballistic filmmakers ranging from John Woo to Quentin Tarantino, writer/director Michael Davis has a knack for cynical patter and non-stop splatter. That said, his clever feature debut offers a slick seamlessness that might earn him a sequel or two.

The anti-hero suitable for many happy returns is Mr. Smith (Clive Owen, once again in gritty Children of Men mode), a loner who tries to save a pregnant woman running past him one gloomy night. She's being pursued by gun-toting thugs in black leather jackets, the first wave of identically dressed stock figures who make Mr. Smith's life hell for the next hour and 22 minutes.

After deftly delivering the infant mid-attack, Smith is then compelled to protect the endangered child when the gang shoots Mom dead for reasons explained much later. A cantankerous guy with a penchant for fresh carrots, he's supremely gifted in hand-to-hand combat, propelling himself through the air to avoid harm, creating Rube Goldberg-like contraptions to foil the numerous villains and wielding anything that can kill—including the aforementioned vegetable.

No matter the body count, sardonic mastermind Hertz (Paul Giamatti, unabashedly spoofing his most notable role with the line “Well, fuck me sideways!”) continues to escalate the battle of wits and weapons. The odds are against Smith, but he's not entirely alone in this cartoon of a live-action movie. Voluptuous prostitute DQ (Monica Bellucci) becomes his partner in self-defense and romance. Hertz refers to her as one of the city's many “lactating whores.” And indeed, tapping the milk of human kindness, she nurses the orphaned baby much as she does her diapered paying customers. Someone please notify the La Leche League.
Distributor: New Line
Cast: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk and Ramona Pringle
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Davis
Producers: Rick Benattar, Susan Montford and Don Murphy
Genre: Action
Rating: R for pervasive strong bloody violence, sexuality and some language
Running time: 82 min.
Release date: September 7, 2007
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