Shoot 'Em Up - 2007
Shoot ’Em Up is written and directed by Michael Davis. This sadly is also his last feature length film as of today. This movie is a tribute to classic westerns and gun-fun movies that came before it. Davis said that he was inspired by Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars) and John Woo (Hardboiled), and it shows. The movie stars Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci, with Paul Giamatti as the main bad guy. The story centers around a mysterious man trying to keep a baby alive from a mysterious organization trying to kill him.
Huge fair warning off the top: this movie is one of the most outlandish, over-the-top, funny, ridiculous and action-packed thrill-rides you will ever take in your life. There are multiple scenes in which our hero utilizes a raw carrot to kill the goons trying to kill him. With that, you know, tiny caveat out of the way, let’s talk about this movie.
Quick note to my fair warning: if you don’t love, like or tolerate rock and roll music, this movie is not for you. To add to the over-the-top tone this movie proudly boasts, the soundtrack is comprised of classic rock and roll moments to accentuate the action. One of my favorites use of music in this movie it’s AC/DC’s “If you want blood (You got it)”. Best way to summarize the entire movie.
Michael Davis created a bombastic world for his character to live in. It takes every action movie trope and heightens it to almost a cartoon level. One of the tropes he most exploited was the indestructible hero. We see this in every Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Norris movie. No matter how much the odds are stacked against them, they will walk away without a single scratch. Whenever a villain shoots a gun in this movie, its more than likely to hit an object in front of our hero, and if our hero shoots, it’s a safe bet that the villain is dead. One of the lines that perfectly highlights this trope is uttered by Paul Giamatti. After Owens once again kills tens of his men he says “My god! Do we really suck, or is this guy really that good?”.
Along with great action filled sequences, Davis also injected his scrip with a through line of humor via the use of running jokes. During the darkest and/or frustrating moments for our main baddie, Giamatii, his phone will ring and his tone will change since he must talk to his wife. He is always aware of the line he must draw from evil to loving husband. Our hero’s jacket is almost a Marry Poppins’s bag filled with an endless count of carrots that he either eats or uses to kill bad guys. But the best running joke in this movie is Owen’s “You know what I hate” rants. Our hero throughout this entire movie rants about things he hates, from people not using their blinkers to parents hitting their kids. Yes, hundreds of people are trying to kill him but he still finds the time to point out the tiny things in life that truly bother him.
All that I have said so far wouldn’t work at all if the actors put in these situations didn’t sell it to the audience, and Clive Owens and Paul Giamatti deliver. Both play their roles with a blend of complete seriousness and self-awareness that this is ridiculous. Keeping that balance allows the audience to buy into this outrageous world while still laughing at the craziness unfolding in front of them. Owens played his character with a level of cockiness reminiscent of his Sin City role, while Giamatti thrived in his first role as a villain, chewing up the scenery. They have multiple scenes in which they trade insults, with Owens getting the last laugh (obviously).
Shoot ‘Em Up can be both enjoyed as a mindless popcorn flick or a satire of the over-the-top action genre. Like I said in my opening paragraph, it’s sad that this was the last Davis movie as of today. While Shoot ‘Em Up is far from a perfect movie, I would’ve love to see his style evolve and improve with his following projects. At least we can enjoy this one. Clive Owens killing a man with a carrot is why I love movies.
Shoot ‘Em Up is currently streaming on HBO Go. Buy a bag of carrots and enjoy the ride.
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