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Shoot 'Em Up

A movie directed by Michael Davis

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An insane action-adventure complete with carrots and Bugs Bunny references.

  • Aug 30, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

I'm no grouch when it comes to entertainment at the sacrifice of real characters of a compelling story; and this is precisely why I'm able to accept films as ridiculous, absurd, loud, and violent as "Shoot 'Em Up"; which is like a hyper violent lost episode of Bugs Bunny on crack. It's fast-paced and should be the perfect antidote for genre fans, because most action movies are either too restrained or not preposterous enough; they just don't cross the lines that this one does. You've already got a really fun ride as it is, but throw in an all-star cast, each member of it used to their best ability (as far as the movie's tone goes), and you've got near perfection.

But that's only as far as these kinds of movies go. Great cinema this is not; great fun it is. I realize that my rating is high, but you know what; so was the entertainment value for this film. I liked the style, I liked the self-awareness of the tone, and I liked how each ridiculous, potentially offensive act served as more of a simple prop than as an abrupt moment just asking for controversy. This film has received some heavy criticism for its lack of sense, and its lack of depth, but movies like this; they don't need much of either, and in that sense, this is a pretty damn good action film.

A man known only as Smith (played by Clive Owen, the handsome devil) is just sitting at a bus stop, enjoying a nice carrot, when he witnesses a man chasing a pregnant woman into a dark alley. He follows them and stops the man from killing the lady, shoving what's left of his carrot through the man's pie-hole. Smith then proceeds to shoot the living hell out of many other men, all while giving birth to the child of the pregnant woman, and sure enough, since this film needs us to know just how wild and ridiculous it is, this is a grand success; but the woman is shot, and Smith takes the baby.

One of his attackers, Hertz (Paul Giamatti) presumably wanted the child, and we learn that the man who got a carrot inserted through his mouth and at the other end was indeed one of his men. Smith, of course, knows this; and Hertz wants him dead. This is why to take care of the baby; he needs a lady with him. He confronts Donna (Monica Bellucci), a prostitute, to help him care for the young child; and this begins the grand journey through insanity.

In a sense, people have claimed that "Shoot 'Em Up" is like "live action Bugs Bunny". I get what they mean; Smith is Bugs, chewing on his carrots throughout and at one moment even saying that famous line ("what's up doc?), while Hertz is Elmer Fudd. Whether this was really where the inspiration came from or not doesn't matter to me so much; I just care that the comparison between the two is funny.

Screw story; screw characters. This is an absurdist action flick, and it's damn proud of it. I enjoyed it as much as I possibly could, and as it turned out, it's possible to like it a lot. "Shoot 'Em Up" is not traditional action fare, but neither is it reminiscent of most modern action films. It could be described as vile and tasteless, but that's precisely the point. I was forgiving; the film was well-made. It's not quite Grindhouse-esque action, but it reminded me of those classic exploitation film, since there's no message, no moral, no nothing; just a lot of blood, guts, and style.

But consider this; the film is also well-acted by its three stars, and the writing isn't actually THAT bad. Sure, I said it lacks depth; but what action movie does not? This is no classic, I accept that fact; but I had a LOT of fun with this movie. It's pure movie-making, and for its genre, I thought it was spectacular. It's just plain bad-ass, and if you like Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, or a nice, sleazy, over-the-top action flick in which just about everything is possible, then I say; why not. No questions asked, this is the movie for you. It's vulgar, crass, and yes; stupid. But that's all a part of the charm.

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More Shoot 'Em Up reviews
review by . July 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Bullet Ballet and Pistol Opera With A Lot of Guns, Bullets and Carrots!!
I rented this film with low expectations. A friend of mine said that it was stupid so I saw this with an open mind and extra low expectations. "Shoot `Em Up" is a movie with a title that speaks for itself. True, the film is so ridiculously unreal but boy, it sure is a lot of fun to watch! Action and gunplay is all you're in for with this film as it makes fun of the ridiculousness of action films. Remember the old gripe: “Either this guy is so good or we just suck so bad….” …
review by . November 15, 2008
Whoah! If you're looking for mindless action, THIS is the movie for you.   It's over the top, totally unbelievable, physically impossible, but absolutely brilliant all at the same time.     2 minute version:     Clive Owen eats a lot of carrots, and values his privacy. There are many things that he absolutely hates, and he comes into contact with most of these things when he unwillingly gets involved in a plot to kill a very pregnant young woman. …
review by . January 03, 2008
To be honest, for the first 10 minutes of this film, you will probably be laughing at the ridiculousness. You are catapulted straight into the action without any introduction of characters, plot or surroundings. This film is violent, sure, but as I always say, it's how a movie is done that makes the difference. Shoot 'Em Up proceeds from one dazzlingly outrageous scene to another with unflagging confidence, tons of panache, brilliantly warped humor and blazing originality, sweeping you and many …
review by . January 04, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
SHOOT 'EM UP is well named: this is a whompingly good action movie that is as much parody of its genre as it is a good story. It never for a moment takes itself seriously and it is played by a strong cast of top-drawer actors having a terrific time. Writer/director Michael Davis has found his niche and let's hope there will be more dark comedies that are as much fun to watch as this one.    The story is negligible: lone man Smith (Clive Owen at his best) observes a pregnant woman …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Every action movie has a moment so over the top you have to laugh;Shoot 'Em Upconsists of nothing but these moments. A carrot-eating, lone wolf kind of guy named Smith (Clive Owen,Children of Men,Inside Man) steps in to protect a pregnant woman from a gunman--and finds himself, with the aid of a lactating prostitute (Monica Belluci,The Matrix Revisited), defending the newborn child from a sleazy contract killer Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti,American Splendor,Sideways) and his army of thugs. That's pretty much the plot, but story is beside the point. Writer/director Michael Davis (Monster Man) has a keen sense of what matters in an action movie. The rapid-fire editing is scrupulously coherent; you always grasp what happened in every shoot-out, even if it flagrantly violates the laws of physics or basic plausibility. Explaining how Smith survives a four-story fall--even if that explanation is beyond ridiculous--demonstrates both a sense of wit and a winking respect for the audience's imagination. As a result,Shoot 'Em Upis ten times more entertaining than the likes ofTransformersorRush Hour 3, movies so self-satisfied with special effects or movie stars that they forgot to be fun. (Shoot 'Em Up's only weakness is a sliver of misogyny, the one action movie cliche that it's not clever enough to transcend.)--Bret Fetzer
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