Friday, 9 November 2007
Shoot 'Em Up
SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007)
Written and Directed by: Michael Davis
Starring: Clive Owen, Monica Bellucci and Paul Giamatti
The best comic book movie of 2007 may be one that isn’t actually based on a comic book. Coming across as a live action graphic novel, Shoot’ Em Up is a deliriously demented comic book blast of a movie, that is a hyper violent hoot right from the get go. Mr Smith (Owen) intervenes in the attempted killing of an on the run pregnant woman by a fleet of black clad goons. Unable to save her life, he finds himself lumbered with a newly spawned sprog who the never ending fleet of goons, led by the homicidal Mr. Hertz (Giamatti), want dead. Severely. With the help of a voluptuous prostitute, DQ (Bellucci), Smith and his make shift family take up arms against Mr. Hertz and his seemingly unlimited army in a film that well and truly lives up to its title.
If gunfights are your thing, then check out Shoot ‘Em Up. Writer/director, Michael Davis (Monster Man) takes his first shot at the big time with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but with enough flair and edge to mark him out as a new talent. The narrative flicks from one shoot out to the next, each becoming increasingly violent, creative and downright bonkers. Shoot out while delivering a baby: check. Shoot out during a sex scene: check. Shoot out while sky diving out of a plane and possibly plummeting to your death: check. Over the top, perfectly stylized and with enough charge to rev up several action flicks, Shoot ‘Em Up’s shoot outs are fast, fun and frequent. They may not deliver the panache or squib strewn grace of a John Woo movie (whose influence is all over this flick) but they are always entertaining and certainly push the boundaries of creativity. Plus, after many a Hollywood flick becoming saturated with the wire-fu that is ever so popular these days, its good to see a flick getting down and dirty with gunplay again. Those with a dislike for guns may want to stay clear though.
Many will no doubt warble on and on about the lack of plot but they will be missing the point. Shoot ‘Em Up is about one thing and that is the action. There are many films out there (including other action films) with dense and intricate plot and fleshed out character we can all get to know, but this film is about the situation, the momentum and the action. Davis makes it all work very well thanks to a committed cast and some running gags that always amuse no matter how heavy handed they become. I read somewhere that the cast (all actors who have done respectable work) were slumming it by appearing in Shoot ‘Em Up. Not so, as Owen, Bellucci and Giamatti’s performances are what carry flick when it isn’t shooting seven shades of shit out of someone or something. Being able to switch from serious drama to comic book violence with effortless ease is the sign of any good actor and all three leads do well here, going with flow and in Giamatti’s case, inhabiting a murderous sleaze with unhinged venom.
The Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd metaphor may get a little tiring (though death by carrot never does!), the dialogue and jokes could have been a little sharper and the whole reason why everyone is shooting at each other in first place may not make much sense, but this matters not a lick. Shoot ‘Em Up is turbo charged fun with a wicked (not to mention twisted and very violent) sense of humour. A comic book for adults, Shoot ‘Em Up is by turn’s ultra violent, crass, misogynistic, sick, funny and exhilarating. So just like any good 1980s action flick then.