MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ None of That Pesky Plot

‘Shoot ’Em Up’ Chooses Violence Over Substance

Shoot ’Em Up

Written and directed by Michael Davis

Starring: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci

Rated R

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Shoot ‘Em Up” definitely surprised me. Every time I thought that this uber-violent flick couldn’t possibly get any more ridiculous, the film managed to take it to the next level. The title pretty much says it all — this is a violent action movie that is all about violence and action … and very little else.

The movie stars Clive Owen as the mysterious Mr. Smith, Paul Giamatti as the mysterious and ruthless bad guy, and Monica Bellucci as the mysterious lactating prostitute. Even with all this star power, the numerous fight scenes are the real stars of the film, and I have to admit that some of the action sequences were very creative and officially merit the title of badass. The plot is completely stupid, but that is sort of what writer and director Michael Davis was going for. Without giving too much away, the story centers around a Mr. Smith who comes to the rescue of a young mother in need, only to get swept up in a large conspiracy where many, many people want him dead. The bad guys, led by Paul Giamatti’s character, proceed to try to kill Smith at various locations — an empty warehouse, an apartment building, a public park, a gun factory, in a car, in an airplane, and yes, in midair.

The movie is overstocked with action clichés, but on purpose. It is like the creators were hoping their extreme lack of originality would somehow make the film creative. I am not sure that they totally succeeded — the film is not mocking the action genre so much as trying to outdo it. “Shoot ’Em Up” never crosses the line into total farce but is much too self-conscious to ever be taken seriously.

This summer, cinemas saw some awesomely terrible scenes thanks to blockbusters such as “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Transformers.” These films had scenes that were equally over the top as those in “Shoot ’Em Up”; however, they were way more hilarious. These films were made to be action movies; “Shoot ’Em Up”, on the other hand, was made to be excessive in every way possible. When something completely crazy happened, it was less of a surprise than it could have been.

A piece on this movie really isn’t complete without a mention of the puns. In the style of James Bond movies, after every killing spree, someone has to make a bad joke about what just happened. A classic example from the Bond flick “Thunderball” is when Bond exclaims, “I think he got the point,” after shooting someone with a spear gun. Personally, I can’t ever get enough of this sort of thing. Even though the entire audience groaned after each bad joke, the movie wouldn’t have been the same without them. I will let you guess what happened before the following were said in “Shoot ’Em Up”: “Nothing like a good hand job” and “Talk about shooting your load.”

In the end, I give “Shoot ’Em Up” three out of four stars. Sure, it has its flaws, but it is still entertaining.