Shoot ‘Em Up
All this for a colorful baby bottle collection? It seems excessive to me.

Golden Mug

Editing (Peter Amundson)
Art Direction (Patrick Banister)

Theatrical Release Date: 09/07/2007
Director: Michael Davis
Cast: Clive Owen, Monica Bellucci, Paul Giamatti

I have to give the movie machine credit over the last few years. For a long, long time, there was nothing but cookie-cutter cinema – the same thing over and over again.

But lately, there has been a willingness to market more out-of-the-box / innovative films. The most obvious film from this year was “300” which was able to bring a graphic novel to life much more effectively than “Sin City” in my humble opinion.

With “Shoot ‘Em Up”, writer/director Michael Davis has managed to turn the action/comedy/graphic violence genre on its ear and pump some much-needed new blood into Hollywood’s veins.

The basic story is that Clive Owen is a carrot-loving badass who you shouldn’t mess with. He gets caught up in a nefarious plot and ends up trying to keep himself, Monica Belluci and a newborn baby from being killed by Paul Giamatti and an almost endless supply of henchmen.

If any of that sounds a bit weird or unrealistic, that’s because it is. The entire film is built upon ridiculously unbelievable circumstances and shootouts. If you’re one of those people who can’t allow a film to be what it is and have to interject reality and physics into things, then “Shoot ‘Em Up” is not for you. Stay home and watch another episode of “Forensic Factor”, you’ll probably get an aneurysm trying to keep up with this film.

For everyone else, this is one of the most enjoyable rides of a film in a long, long time and just about the funniest film I’ve seen all year. The comedy doesn’t stem from simple gags and jokes though; it’s in the over-exaggerated violence and dry wit that’s employed throughout.

Davis did an excellent job choosing Owen and Giamatti to play the leads. Each has an ability to play any situation straight-faced and it’s that sincerity that allows the film to work.

The tone of the film is a balancing act, keeping the violence and comedy working hand-in-hand. If either gets played up too much, the audience would lose their ability to suspend their disbelief and the film falls apart.

The effects are all excellent and slightly cheesy, almost in a comic book fashion. That subtle touch is probably the result of being budget conscious but I think it works for the film. If all of the effects could have been done with the help of the finest CGI and effects teams, the film would have suffered from seeming too polished and less about the characters than it ends up being.

Now, if you haven’t seen a trailer for this, I think that’s good. You shouldn’t know what’s going to happen or just how incredible some of the scenes are. I’m actually going to refrain from giving away some of the scenarios in the film because I think it’s far more fun to be whisked away to fantasy land than get a road map beforehand.

Let me just say that there were more than a few times that myself and the audience were physically and audibly reacting to the visceral and twistedly funny moments created by Davis and his team.

If you like your films with a darker edge and are okay with gratuitous violence and perverse humor, “Shoot ‘Em Up” is exactly the film for you and I’m giving it a 5 out of 5. This is the most welcome surprise of the year, living up to the hype I had been hearing about and I hope everyone inclined to see a film like this will get off their couch and into the theaters. This one’s worth paying for.