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Movie Review: Shoot ‘Em Up

Shoot 'Em Up

The film starts with a close up of Clive Owen looking tough, then he eats a carrot. This is the perfect opening sequence as it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the film. It is a blend of action and absurd comedy.

Shortly after he acquires a baby and a hooker and tries to protect them from the bad guys who want to kill the baby.

That is the plot in a nutshell.

The rest is a 86 minute non-stop action comedy romp through absurd gags and ludicrous, but brilliantly choreographed action sequences.

This had the potential to be absolutely terrible, but it works because it has no pretentions, yet doesn’t use that as an excuse to be sloppy. The one-liners are absurdly excellent and the set-pieces are insane with a body count that would put Rambo to shame.

Part satire, part spoof, it is what a Jason Statham film would be like if he made a really great film. It references a whole host of the genre tropes and by fully embracing the absurdity of the genre it surpasses pretty much ever action film of the past 10 years, despite having a completely ludicrous plot.

Despite as lot of claims that is a “switch your brain off” movie, it is actually the opposite. It moves quickly and works on the level it sets for itself, which is somewhere between Hot Shots and God Bless America.

Written and directed by Michael Davis, he really manages to put his vision up onto the screen. It is both wonder and a shame then that he wasn’t made a movie since.

Clive Owen is very good as the protagonist, Smith and shows that he can slip from action to comedy very well. This is much more difficult than a lot of people think, which is why people with flailing careers “step down” to comedy and then fail spectacularly.

Paul Giamatti is great, as always, this time playing the bad guy appropriately named Hertz. Monica Bellucci plays the hooker with a heart of gold with a great deal of wit. All in all, it is a great cast.

This is an excellent movie and seems to have been underestimated by a lot of people. For all its violence and shooting people, the underlying moral of the story is one of pro-gun control. Even more broadly, is take a moment to preach to the audience and deliver a universal truth in very plain language. It talks of politicians corrupted by greed and self-interest and the self-preservation instinct of the powerful.

“Let me give you a piece of advice, never trust the people who stand to profit, plain and simple. They’re the bad guys.”

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Shoot ‘Em Up

  1. This is a film I’ve been planning to see for years, it does seem a very ‘self-aware’ film.

    Clive Owen is excellent in Children of Men, but I can’t think of any other comedies he’s done – from the short clips I’ve seen of SEU, his approach seems almost like Bugs Bunny.

    • I don’t think I’ve seen him in any other comedies and Bugs Bunny is certainly referenced a number of time in this and it is ridiculously over-the-top cartoony in some places, but that just adds to the charm.

      You will know whether it is for you within the first 10 seconds.

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