SEB Review: “Shoot ‘Em Up”

It all starts so simply: “Smith” (Clive Owen) is one bad-ass dude who is sitting at a bus stop minding his own business and enjoying a fresh carrot when a very pregnant and tearfully distraught young woman goes running by soon to be followed by a man with a gun who is obviously intent on causing her harm. At first Smith tries to ignore what he’s just seen, but, being the reluctant, bad-ass, anti-hero in an over-the-top action movie that he is, it’s not long before he sets off to stop whatever is about to happen. The woman manages to break into an abandoned building before she’s caught up to by the obvious bad guy who pulls out a knife and sneeringly says he’s about to give her a C-section, but before he can Smith intervenes and demonstrates why a carrot isn’t always good for your health.

Alas the bad guy is just the first of many, many bad guys that are chasing this poor woman who ends going into labor just as the rest of the baddies show up resulting in the first of many over-the-top scenes where Smith, now armed with a gun from the woman’s purse, shoots a lot of bad men while simultaneously trying to deliver a baby and then make their escape. The leader of the bad guys is a man named Hertz (Paul Giamatti) who is every bit as much a bad ass as Smith is, though in a more calculating fashion, and he’s out to kill both mother and child. A feat he’s partially successful at as the woman takes a bullet to the head leaving Smith to deal with a newborn baby and the mystery of just what the hell is going on.

That’s the plot in a nutshell and a nutshell is about all you’d need to hold it because there’s not a whole lot to it, but then it’s not a deep plot kind of movie. It’s a balls-to-the-wall action movie that assumes what you came to see is Clive Owen racking up a body count of enormous proportions while engaging in outrageous gun fights and spouting classic one-liners about what he hates about over-the-top action movies, and that’s exactly what you get. I wouldn’t have picked Paul Giamatti as a bad-ass villain that’s the equal to Owen’s bad-ass anti-hero, but he manages to convincingly go toe-to-toe in exchanges of quips that’s just a treat to watch.

In addition to Owen and Giamatti we’re treated to Monica Bellucci as a lactating prostitute that Smith drafts to be the baby’s surrogate mother while he tries to figure out why someone wants the poor kid dead. I’m not sure the movie was intended to be a parody, but it works very well on that level and there were plenty of scenes I found myself laughing out loud at for the sheer ridiculousness of what was happening on-screen. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously and the stars are clearly enjoying the hell out of chewing up the scenery and it all somehow works in spite of how silly it is.

The fact that Giamatti is able to track down Owen and Bellucci no matter where they run is passingly explained away as Giamatti’s natural genius in knowing how people like Owen tend to think and that’s about as close to rationalizing anything that happens on the screen as the movie gets. This means that the bad guys are always showing up at the most inopportune times. Such as one uproarious scene where they start popping up while Owen and Bellucci are in the middle of their obligatory sex scene resulting in a sequence even more over-the-top than the one where he kills tons of baddies while delivering a baby. Every time you think they can’t possibly do something more ridiculous than the last gun fight they find a way to prove you wrong.

In the end you won’t believe a minute of it and you won’t care ’cause it’s just too much fun to ignore. It’s definitely not a movie for kids as there’s plenty of blood (some of it seemingly enhanced by CGI) and tons of people dieing in painful ways. If you’re looking for something you can switch off your mind and just enjoy then this is probably just what you’re looking for.