September 7th, 2007. The theatrical release date of Shoot 'Em Up and 3:10 to Yuma. I had literally been waiting on this day for close to a year. I haven't seen 3:10 to Yuma yet (I'm saving it until this coming Western Wednesday), but I must say that Shoot 'Em Up lived up to my expectations and instantly maneuvered its way into my Top Three Crazy Action Movies list. (The other two, in case you were wondering, are Crank and Transporter 2, which coincidentally both star another Brit, Jason Statham.)
You'll know WAY before you actually lay eyes on this film whether you'll like it or not. It's over-the-top, nonsensical, physics-defying, ridiculous, and packed literally from open to close with action. I loved it. As evidenced by its embarrassingly small $5.5 million opening weekend, the general public doesn't necessarily appreciate these kinds of movies. But Shoot 'Em Up (seriously - just look at the title!) doesn't hide its intentions and is a loving gift from director Michael Davis to action junkies everywhere.
Apparently Davis has come out and said that the movie was inspired by the hospital scene from John Woo's 1992 classic Hard Boiled*, and it doesn't take a genius to draw comparisons between the two films. Both feature a seemingly endless supply of ammunition being fired, huge body counts, and fantastic opening scenes (the teahouse shootout from Hard Boiled is widely known as one of the coolest shootouts in film history). I don't want to give too much away when it comes to Shoot 'Em Up, because I really want you to see this movie. It's a short 80 minutes long and it understands there's no need for Lord of the Rings lengths here. Eighty minutes is plenty of time to wrap up the loosely-tied plot, which is the second in as many years that revolves around Clive Owen protecting a child while dodging bullets. Owen plays Mr. Smith, a child-prodigy-gunman-turned-unemployed-bum in an unnamed American city. With a baby in his arms, he shoots his way to an old lover of his, a prostitute by the name of DQ (played by Italian actress Monica Bellucci, The Matrix sequels, The Passion of the Christ). DQ becomes the surrogate mother for the child, and aids Mr. Smith in protecting the little boy from the evil Mr. Hertz, played eccentrically by Paul Giamatti, who has been hired to kill the child for reasons unknown to us until the climax of the film.
The action scenes were innovative and original, hilarious at some points, and just plain fun all the way through. Mr. Smith is never in any real danger of being killed, although at times he is literally unarmed and surrounded by gunmen and miraculously manages to escape. Suspension of disbelief is a required element to enjoying this movie, but if you can do it, then I almost guarantee you'll be immensely entertained. Clive Owen chews on a carrot for most of the film, an obvious reference (coupled with the line "What's up, Doc?") to the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons that evoke the same principles. The car chase scene is fantastic, and keep your eye out for a scene where Mr. Smith expresses his displeasure for bad drivers. Here's a clip (starting at 1:17) of one of the many shootouts, and you'll get a good vibe for what kind of movie it is right off the bat.
Shoot 'Em Up is a unifying force, with frat guys and fanboys alike sure to be singing its praises based solely on its ridiculous qualities and the fact that there's a "smokin' hot chick" in it. I'm not saying that we're better than them, but I guarantee that most of them wouldn't see the symbolism of severing an umbilical cord with a bullet or hiding in a tank from members of the government. While it could be "mindless" entertainment if people choose to view it that way, they'd be missing out on the director's goal: to make a parody of the genre in such a way as to provide viable political commentary and satisfy the cravings of action junkies at the same time. But I'll step down off this high horse. The movie was fun. Go see it. I'm sure it'll have some pretty cool bonus features when it comes out on DVD in (I'm guessing) four months. Stay tuned for a review on 3:10 to Yuma, and we'll see if September 7th was all I hoped for or just half of what I hoped for. Until next time...
*The hospital scene from Hard Boiled is literally about 40 minutes in length. I found this clip on YouTube that edited together a few of the main sequences, so check it out if you're interested. And if you think THAT'S ridiculous, then go see Shoot 'Em Up.