Film Review: Shoot 'Em Up

by Chris Heller
Special to iVoryTowerz

I love action movies. From the explosions and gunfights to the black and white, good vs. bad mentality, a great action movie is practically irreplaceable. Be it a cheesy Schwarzenegger flick or an over-the-top Michael Bay production, nothing's more fun to watch. Some people might feel my love of all things action borders on the obsessive (just ask me how I feel about The Rock, for example) but I'll still buy into the “oohs and ahhs” that no other genre can provide. It goes without saying, therefore, that I loved Shoot 'Em Up.

The movie opens with Clive Owen, as the squatter Smith, being thrown into a conflict (aka: a huge gunfight) that leaves him the guardian of a newborn baby. And of course, who better to take care of a baby than Red Light District “Milk Maid” Donna Quitano, played by Monica Bellucci. This odd couple jumps from one chase scene and firefight to the next, evading the grasp of Paul Giamatti, who takes the role of a professional hitman named Hertz. It all builds up to – what else? – a final battle between Smith and Hertz, although in a way most wouldn't expect.

Director Michael Davis holds nothing back for eighty-six minutes of all-out, intense action. In his previous film Monster Man, Davis demonstrated a skill in crafting tongue-in-cheek subject matter that's simply kicked up to another level in this release. Rather than tease you, however, Shoot 'Em Up beats you over the head with its absurdity. The funny thing is, it actually works. I, for one, watched in disbelief as Smith nonchalantly killed off dozens of baddies with weapons that would make MacGyver jealous (you'll never look at a carrot the same way again).

Critics have been harsh to disregard Shoot 'Em Up as an excuse to film shoot-outs, citing its lack of plot or character development. In response, I'd say that they entirely missed Davis' point. Who decided that action films need intricate, weaving plotlines? Can't the audience be just as easily satisfied with scene after scene of violence, one-liners, and sex appeal? I might be standing in the minority, but I feel that by cutting out the fluff, you're just left with everything that defines an action movie. Forget the plot dynamics, I'd gladly sit down with some popcorn and watch Owen dispatch villain after villain any day of the week.

(Promotional poster for Shoot 'Em Up from New Line Cinema. To see a trailer from the film, please check below.)

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