Josh's Review: Shoot Em Up - An Action Classic
by Josh Green
August 1, 2007
I had the distinct privilege of attending the world premiere of Shoot 'Em Up this past week at Comic-Con. We were greeted with a friendly introduction from the film's director, Michael Davis, about his influences in making the film and how excited he was to be showing it for the first time to all of us. Even with such a cinematic treat as the introduction, my opinion of the film is not bias because of this. The film speaks for itself. Shoot 'Em Up is one of the best action movies I have ever seen, period.
The film opens with an intense action sequence and doesn't stop for the entire movie. The story is simple enough, Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) is at the wrong place at the wrong time and discovers a pregnant prostitute who is about to give birth while being gunned down by unknown henchmen. After saving the baby and seeking the help of another prostitute named DQ (Monica Bellucci), Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti) finds his dead henchmen and tries to get back the child from Mr. Smith by any means necessary.
This of course gives director Michael Davis the chance to have literally every scene in the movie be an over-the-top action scene that is as uniquely stylized as it is entertaining. There are gunfights in abandoned buildings, during sex, bathrooms, and even while skydiving in the air. Davis seems to be out to top every scene by a following scene. Some may find the action too over-the-top and cartoonish to be taken seriously, but that's the fun of it. Mr. Smith chews on a carrot for most of the movie and even finds himself spitting out lines like, "what's up doc?" Clearly a sign that this is a film not to be taken seriously, but one that knows who its fans are.
Clive Owen's performance in the movie is spot on. His character has very little exposition, but none is needed. We know he is the star of the movie, and Owen shows us that he can kick as much ass with a carrot than he can with a gun. Paul Giamatti is impressive as Mr. Hertz, a villain who has the audacity to phone his wife to confirm what time he is going to be home while shooting someone. Giamatti adds a real sense of derision to the character, which plays out to be hysterical in many scenes. And of course Monica Bellucci is as stunning as ever and holds her own impressively next to the rest of her A-list co-stars.
I also must comment on the music in the film. It is easy for a director to slap a rock song on an action scene, giving the scene a formulaic tone as well as making the scene terribly uninteresting. However, the music in Shoot 'Em Up however adds a throttled layer of intensity and style, giving each action sequence an irresistible personality.
I can't say enough good things about Shoot 'Em Up. Besides Grindhouse, it's been the most fun I have had at the movies all year. It's an unbelievable ride that needs to be experienced on the big screen.