Saturday 12 June 2021

Movie Review: Shoot'Em Up (2007)

A jocular action film, Shoot'Em Up embraces Bugs Bunny cartoon sensibilities in a manic save-the-baby adventure. With non-stop impetus and an irrepressible attitude, this is a thrill ride to savour.

In the middle of the night, carrot-munching loner Smith (Clive Owen) sticks his nose in other people's business by attempting to protect a pregnant woman running from a horde of assassins. She gives birth, but is then killed. Smith escapes with the baby, and becomes the target of Hertz (Paul Giamatti), who is intent on eliminating the infant.

Smith connects with lactating prostitute Donna (Monica Bellucci), who reluctantly agrees to help look after the newborn they now call Oliver. Hertz starts to uncover Smith's elite military background and assembles an army of goons to hunt him down. Smith has to shoot his way out of numerous jams while keeping Donna and Oliver safe. He also uncovers a baby-killing conspiracy involving an evil gun-manufacturing company and a shady political gambit.

Clocking in at a mere 86 minutes, Shoot'Em Up is breathlessly fun and ridiculously entertaining. Writer and director Michael Davis unapologetically parks logic at the door and conjures up a series of outrageous set-pieces, all delivered with panache and feasting on an endless supply of bullets and bad guys.

And several highlights represent brilliant action filmmaking, combining jaw-dropping stuntwork with spirited music and pointed editing. Hertz's army of similarly-dressed men invades Smith's walk-up apartment, and the shoot-out that follows is an adrenaline rush set to Motorhead's Ace Of Spades. Later, Smith drops out of an aircraft, and an exhilarating aerial free-fall battle follows. Back on the ground, wise use of seat belts is demonstrated in a high speed head-on crash. And just for good measure, Davis finds a way to combine yet another shoot-out with an energetic sex session.

The plot propelling the madness is just as knowingly outrageous, having something to do with a secret baby factory, an ailing political candidate, and the gun lobby. None of it is intended to make sense, and it doesn't. Meanwhile, Smith's background is revealed in droplets to colour-in a fittingly damaged protagonist. Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti enjoy themselves in gleeful performances, and cut through the carnage with the symmetrical respect of a cartoon anti-hero and his indestructible nemesis.

The guiltiest of guilty pleasures, Shoot'Em Up fires at will and scores perfect insanity.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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