Right on Target

Action, sex, and guns. Lots and lots of guns. That just about wraps up what director Michael Davis’ latest, “Shoot ‘Em Up,” is all about. It is outrageous and lacks a whole lot of sense, but that is exactly how it is supposed to be, mixing clever dark-humor and Clive Owen’s British charm. Not only that, but it borrows heavily from the likes of famed action director John Woo, which only helps boost the film’s quality.

Owen stars as Mr. Smith (generic, but it works well), a mysterious homeless man with dead-on accuracy when it comes to handling a firearm. Minding his own business at a bus stop, a pregnant woman on the verge of delivering the baby runs past him, with a group of men in pursuit to kill her, led by Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti). After cursing himself for needing to get involved, he rescues the woman, grabs her gun, and starts firing. He finds himself delivering the baby in the middle of the battle (does not make sense, but it is wildly entertaining) and fleeing with the baby after the mother is killed.

In desperate need of help with a child he shouldn’t have in the first place, he turns to DQ (Monica Bellucci), a prostitute he has some history with. Reluctant at first but soon tortured by Mr. Hertz, DQ-Donna Quintana-finally goes along with Smith as they try to figure out why so many people want this baby dead.
The plot, while not laid out in the deepest of ways, is actually kept interesting amongst all the shooting and action going on. Bits and pieces of Smith’s past are also thrown out, humanizing the hard-ass character he is. And although there is not a whole lot to him, you simply have to love him, and that probably stems from Clive Owen portraying the character. That’s not to say Giamatti and Bellucci pale in comparison. Instead, they are excellent in the roles they are filling. It is little tough going in and knowing Giamatti is playing a bad guy with the roles he has under his belt, but he’s actually very convincing with this sort of bad guy. And Bellucci, aside from her obvious stunning beauty, turns in a solid performance.

But of course, with a title like “Shoot ‘Em Up,” you really have to expect lots of gunfire and action, and thankfully the film more than delivers. Smith’s character represents the “poor man’s James Bond,” so to speak. Instead of using high-end gadgets, he uses his surroundings to the fullest extent (√† la Woo’s Inspector Tequila, played by Chow Yun-Fat). And to give you a taste of the extreme Davis goes to in this film, here’s a taste: in one scene, Smith leaves the baby on a merry-go-round of sorts, only to fire rounds at it to make it spin, thus preventing a sniper from killing the baby. It doesn’t sound as great in print as it looks on screen, but like most everything else, it is highly entertaining.

So while “Shoot ‘Em Up” is far from being considered a great film, it still manages to be packed with plenty of action and deliver lots of fun, exactly what it promises to do.

And unlike a similar sort of a film that came out earlier this year (that would be Smokin’ Aces), this actually keeps you interested in it and makes you care for the main character. Action lovers will adore this movie, but even if you’re not the biggest action fan, you will be entertained.

3 out of 4 stars