Shoot 'Em Up (2008)
Michael Davis Shoot ’Em Up is the tale of Mr. Smith (Clive Owen), a drifter with a possible special forces background and a liking for carrots who wants nothing more than to be left alone. However, he finds himself embroiled in a complex political conspiracy once he aids a pregnant woman who is being chased by a hitman. After the woman is killed, he takes the baby and goes on the run with a lactating prostitute (Monica Bellucci). Meanwhile, they are stalked by the intelligent and ruthless Hertz (Paul Giamatti), an ex-FBI forensic psychologist and his never-ending army of foot soldiers. A myriad of elaborate gunfights ensues and Smith slowly pieces together the reasons behind their pursuit. A United States Senator who strongly supports gun control has been breeding babies for their bone marrow to treat his cancer. A prominent gun baron has contracted Hertz to kill the babies, thus ending the senator’s political ambitions. Once the plot is expedited the mayhem continues.
It is alleged by director, Michael Davis that Shoot ’Em Up is a satirical look at American gun culture and the way it has become an integral part of the social fabric of the country. It also supposedly lampoons the contemporary action movie focusing on its style, ethics and “raison d’etre”. Whether or not this is the case remains to be seen. Joe Public didn't discern any hidden depths upon the films initial release. As it stands Shoot ’Em Up is simply an action film with a plot more preposterous than Crank, with a bunch of frenetic action scenes cribbed from Hong Kong cinema. The film lurches from a sense of tongue in cheek, to abject incredulity within the first ten minutes of the film, when a bad guy is dispatched by a carrot.
If you want action with a satirical subtext, then it is better represented by the work of Paul Verhoeven. Robocop and Starship Troopers being prime examples. The intellectual pretensions of Shoot 'Em Up definitely got lost during its making. However, there are a few good aspects to the proceedings. It is enjoyable spotting the homages to such classics as Hard Boiled and Django. And some of the dialogue is so excruciating it becomes quite droll. But by and large this film is a mess. Neither Owen or the talented Giamatti can save it. With the message lost, there’s nothing more than a film destined to be wilfully misconstrued by the tabloids. Therefore, avoid Shoot 'Em Up if you are easily offended or intolerant of the cinematic equivalent of the concept album.