Stars Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti
Plot Circumstances (not worth going into) lead to “Mr. Smith” (Clive Owen) begrudgingly protecting a newborn while trying to figure out why hordes of people want the baby dead.
Highlights This movie starts with about seven seconds of downtime (close up of Clive Owen eating a carrot – and that is if you call that “down time”), then spends the next 86 minutes shooting it up (there may have never been a more apt title). Yes, there is a ridiculous plot involving a crazy government cover-up/double-cross. Yet, all of the (comically far-fetched) plot work is wrapped up in guns of all shapes and sizes making things dead. This may be the most shooting per capita (minute) in the history of cinema. … The first line of the movie is a baddie yelling, “You’re dead, bitch!” Offhand, I will say this is the best first line since Apocalypse Now. … Does nothing but guns banging sound redundant for a full-length action flick?
Then fuck off! Fear not, Shoot ‘Em up finds all sorts of ways to make a firearm go click-BOOM! Mr. Smith is an acrobatic deadeye, enabling him to do anything that a man and gun can do in union (as well as all that is impossible and ever so much fun to watch). Plus, there is added diversity with the two deaths via carrot. … The movie clocks in under 90 minutes and is end-to-end action, quite literally. … Clive Owen delivers a pitch-perfect performance as the begrudging/cynical/witty/badass hero. It is difficult to imagine anyone else pulling it off with more aplomb. Bonus, Paul Giamatti (who I normally disdain) is rock solid as the snarky villain. … The movie was made for unrealistic, stupid action, therefore, it has no constraints – and it takes full advantage of that freedom. Need a gunfight while skydiving from a commercial jet? Shoot ‘Em Up has got you covered.
Drawbacks Here is where the enormous red flag gets thrown: Is this movie intentionally and chiefly going for humor, thus breaking one of my own made-up rules for this list? Sure, much of this movie has tongue planted firmly in cheek, but I believe that this flick’s high objective was to make a dumb action romp – above all else. It surely is a debate for the ages. … The title is not subtle, and it is also a crutch for it being an ultimate BAM (bad action movie). This movie’s action is almost entirely done with guns. A well fortified BAM should have some variety, i.e. hand-to-hand, BOOMS! While this was an active decision by the director, it is still a knock to it becoming a top three BAM.
Best Take There are many wicked set pieces in this gunathon, but one stands apart for me. When Mr. Smith takes the baby back to his place (an abandoned factory of sorts), he is not alone for long, as an army of troops come to kill him. Mr. Smith predictably then shoots his way out in an awesomest fashion. He accomplishes this with some of the most fun and creative gun play in the movie, toting the baby all the while. Does that not sound awesomest enough? Well, a little Ace of Spades by Motorhead blares throughout. (Not even They Live packed Motorhead!) Note: If you orgasm while watching that scene – do not worry, it is perfectly natural.
Justification The first time I heard about this movie, it was already in the cheap theater. I read a panned review (1.5 stars out of five) that started, “Less than five minutes into Shoot ’Em Up, Owen’s uber-badass hero without a name kills a guy by jamming a carrot through the back of his skull, and then quips, ‘Eat your vegetables.’ If you think that sounds like the awesomest thing ever, then you’ll probably love Shoot ’Em Up.” The part of that review that puzzled me was the whole, “If you think that sounds like the awesomest thing ever…” No f’n shit, that sounds the awesomest! Within a minute, DJ HatesYou and I were looking up theater times. Within an hour, we were armed with a flask of whiskey at the conveniently-close cheap theater. Within a week, we had already gone to a second viewing.
Next Up? The most unlikely of partners take on Jack Palance.