Shoot 'Em Up
Directed by Michael Davis. Starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Daniel Pilon. (2007, R, 87 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 14, 2007
There's not a lot to this action-movie satire other than a seemingly endless fusillade of copper-jacketed projectiles and the image of unhinged British gunslinger Owen trading fire with American Splendor's Giamatti. That may in fact be enough for those who can't tell their HKVP70 from their P08 Parabellum, but it's not nearly as much fun as even Robert Rodriguez's lesser cordite capers (Once Upon a Time in Mexico). The bizarrely byzantine plotting has Owen's mysterious gun monkey delivering a newborn whom everyone else seems to want dead, which led me for a moment to hope that the child was perhaps the Antichrist or a bioengineered supersoldier from the future or even the new template for kid-friendly Soylent Green, but, woe be me, the li'l pooper is none of those. The film's MacGuffin, such as it is, revolves around an anti-gun senator (Pilon) and the arms manufacturer who loathes him (McHattie), with Giamatti's high-strung contract killer out to off him or the baby or possibly both. In between sequences where we're treated to Bellucci as the sexiest lactating hooker in the world (who doesn't mind blowing a bum behind a Dumpster if it means money for her and Owen's tiny charge), there's much ado about nada, with Owen sliding on his backside and belly as he single-handedly pockmarks the scenery enough to render the sets usable for an upcoming episode of Lebanon Home Makeover. Shoot 'Em Up lives or dies by its action, and while you can't fault the film on its blink-and-you'll-miss-it pacing, it's also a textbook example of how not to edit a gunfight, as proved by the opening bang fest, which has so many choppy, sloppy cuts and cutaways that it's unlikely to be comprehensible to anyone not on at least 20 milligrams of Adderall or weened inside a strobe light. There are a few gags that work out – not the least of which is the casting of the previously menschy Giamatti as a bloodthirsty mensch whose wife just won't stop badgering him via cell phone – but for the most part, this is strictly kiss kiss, bang bang, yawn yawn.