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September 2007

By Kam Williams


Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: Michael Davis
Screenwriter: Michael Davis
Cast: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Greg Bryk, Chris Jericho, Stephen McHattie, Jane McLean, Daniel Pilon
Running time: 87 minutes



Loner and Hooker Team-Up to Save Newborn in Action Spoof

Smith, a homeless drifter (Clive Owen) sitting at a bus stop, comes to the assistance of a pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) being chased down the street by a couple of hoodlums. Fortunately, the carrot-chomping hobo happens to be a military veteran well-versed in weapons and martial arts combat, a set of skills about to come in very handy since he’s just unknowingly ticked-off Hertz (Paul Giamatti), a ruthless mobster with a gang of cutthroat assassins.

The Good Samaritan starts fighting-off the goons while simultaneously delivering the stranger’s baby during the heat of battle. Then, after the mother succumbs from an unceremonious shot in the head, Smith realizes he has an orphan on his hands. Knowing that the kid needs milk for nourishment, and pronto, he quickly makes his way to a house of ill repute in search of Donna (Monica Bellucci), a proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold whose specialty is catering to kinky customers with a fetish for lactating

Understandably suspicious about why a john would show up with a newborn, Donna is reluctant to assist, until Hertz’s and company burst in guns-a-blazing. Suddenly, both her maternal and survival instincts kick in, and clutching the kid to her bosom, she follows Smith’s lead down into the mean streets on the dead run for a non-stop chase that doesn’t end till the curtain comes down on this heart-stopping roller coaster ride. This is the unabashedly preposterous point of departure of Shoot 'Em Up, a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the action adventure genre. The picture delivers handily, provided all you’re asking for is a stomach-churning free-fall featuring plenty of gratuitous bloodletting with a little primal carnality tossed in for good measure.

Written and directed by Michael Davis, the story is riddled with so many gaping holes that it renders the plotline an irrelevant afterthought. Yet, this is not necessarily a negative, especially when the filmmaker is deliberately unconcerned with character development or motivation in favor of filling the screen with tableau after tableau of gruesome vivisection.Offering an experience perhaps best described as a cross of Sin City and Children of Men, two Clive Owen flicks, Shoot 'Em Up shares the former’s
celebration of senseless slaughter and the latter’s revolving around the rescue of a baby. The magnetic Owen turns in a mesmerizing performance as the dashing and debonair Mr. Smith, an 007-like hero who proves to be as impervious to bullets as he is irresistible to women, or at least to Donna. Equally impressive is Paul Giamatti who has long since perfected playing villains like the diabolical Hertz.

A one-dimensional cinematic treat best savored with one’s brain on pause.