Between “Exiled” and the new action film “Shoot ’em Up” my weekend was a hyper realistic blood bath. But while in “Exiled” the characters stuck to guns for their killin’. The characters in “Shoot ’em Up” rely on everything from helicopter blades to oil slicks to, well, thousands and thousands of bullets! It was really quite a zany, sugar induced treat.
One thing I always wonder in a film like this, or even the old samurai films, which this bears comparisons to some of the better ones like “Kill!”, is that once the hero, played with grizzled mysterious samurai baditude by Clive Owen, has mowed down 50 henchmen, what is that next henchman to run into the room thinking? Does he honestly believe he has more of a chance of getting off a fatal wound than the last fifty, before being sent spiraling across the nearest hard surface in gooey chunks of red. Maybe that’s because no one could possibly believe that they would run across someone so amazingly efficient in the accidental way that they do.
Within moments of the films opening we’re treated to gruesome death by an unlikely object and from there on out it’s pretty much wall to wall action. Owen playing none other than “Smith” is waiting at a bus stop late at night, for what? Who knows. I can’t imagine even he does. A pregnant woman runs past followed by a crazed henchman who draws a gun and follows her into an abandoned warehouse. Smith, curses himself for doing something he hasn’t done yet, and goes to the rescue. In going to the rescue he runs into a hitman, played with grotesque zeal by Paul Giamatti, who seems after having been worn out by all of the boring indie type characters he’s been playing, to be loving every second of his on camera time here. His character is one of the several light hearted vulgarities throughout the film that in a movie which if it had taken itself more seriously would have been intolerable to watch. But this is more Looney Tunes than Hannibal Lecter and Giamatti plays his character with a sneer and glint in his eyes reminiscent of some old black and white cartoon with the wolf chasing down the three little pigs. The fact that he is such a talented actor is the only reason it works so well. He doesn’t even back down from one of the most twisted moments I’ll see in a film this year.
But where, oh, where does Mr. Smith go? Well a baby is delivered in a very high stress situation and he ends up having to protect it with the help of a local hooker, the sexy Monica Bellucci at the wheel. Talk about high stress situations. Smith is able to do almost anything while killing bad guys. To give the laundry list would be to ruin the absurd fun, to say much more about the movie would be to give away the fun, since it’s all moments and little relevance.
The plot thickens in its thin way. I was actually impressed by the simple story, each action the characters took seemed to make sense. All of the characters in the film, even the bad guys who we don’t meet until later, are really quite creative in what they want. And each character is far smarter than they probably could ever be in figuring out each others next steps, which makes them formidable opponents, but allows for some stretches of logic, although handled with a slight wink. A grounded wink if one can imagine that. A wink that says, “Come on, it’s as real as you want it to be.” And when each sequence is so far over the top you have no choice but to believe it could happen. I want to thank the director for showing me things I didn’t even know I wanted to see, but I guess really did.
I predict if this film does well a certain vegetable will see a surge in sales.