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The International Writers Magazine: DVD Review

Shoot ‘em Up
Written and Directed by Michael Davis,
Clive Owen – Smith
Monica Bellucci – Donna Quintano
Paul Giamatti - Hertz
Daniel Alves

Sometimes you’ll hear about a film with a name like "The Forbidden Desires of Bob", go see it expecting some perverted string of sexual escapades, only to find that the main character is grossly overweight and has been forbidden from eating fatty foods. Not only would that make for a dull storyline, but it would leave you wanting your money back because of the misleading title.

‘Shoot ‘em Up’ does no such thing. It’s a film about a man shooting things. Lots of things. It’s not a story about romance, though it does boast an attractive prostitute with an interesting milk fetish, and it’s not a story that the old philosophers of Greece would gather to discuss its merits in the depth of human understanding. It’s about people getting shot. Lots of people.

‘Smith’, played by Owen, is the only name the main character ever goes by. He’s a bitter man with a hatred for almost everything that exists, bringing justice to those who deserve it in his own unique way. He’s also extremely fond of carrots, so anyone looking to campaign against this movie and its lack of morals needs to stop and think again, because it’s actually promoting good health and for kids to eat their vegetables.

With a mysterious military background, Smith is able to dispatch entire rows of men by himself. The best part about this, strangely enough, is not the blood-splattered walls or piles of corpses that any good action movie has, but how he does it. Smith is the modern day Skald, the battle-poet of the Norse Vikings who used to run into battle chanting to inspire their men while swinging a large weapon around. But instead of catchy lyrics or a melodic voice, Smith’s art is in the bizarre yet original way he kills people. His first victim, despite wielding a gun, does not react well to Smith’s ideas about good health, taking a carrot in the mouth and then through the back of the neck. Halfway through the movie, Smith is injured and flicks his own blood at one of his enemies, blinding them and giving him enough time to bring them down. Soon after that, he head butts a scalpel before it can pierce his eyes, instead impaling it through his own forehead, disarming his foe and snatching it as a weapon for himself. Why there is not a Nobel prize for ‘most inventive kill in film’, I don’t know.
The camera is always moving, keeping up with Smith’s fast speed, tumbles and slides, matching the extreme fast pace of the film. Smith is rarely shown standing still, using his agility and wit to stay alive. Some survival credit may go to weaponry, also.

The film of course has a plot, but it’s not a film you’d go to see because of a compelling storyline. There’s no complex string of plots to clog up Smith’s gun barrel, which is a good thing for us as an audience and him as a character. A mother is on the run with her child, followed by an armed man. Smith intervenes, and despite his best efforts to remain a cold-hearted killer, cannot help but become a distant father figure for the child. The plot unfolds around this child, which of course involves politicians, eventually leading to him being chased by Hertz (played by Giamatti) and his endless resource of thugs. Smith looks to an old ‘friend’, a whore by the name of Donna (played by Belluci), to take care of the child while he tries to shrug off the people chasing him. However, chances are that people are more fascinated in her lack of clothing and array of kinks than her role in the story.

Shoot ‘em Up is everything we love in an action film, with most of the dull and half-arsed storyline bits that plague most shooters today cut out. It’s no nonsense and straight to the point, the equivalent of a complete stranger walking up to you in a bar and saying "wanna?"
I would not recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a twelve hour introduction before the film starts, or those who like to read a manual to understand what is going on. I would, however, recommend it to anyone who can appreciate some manic gunfire from a new, refreshing angle, with a sickly sweet comical twist.

You know what I hate? Having to wait for a sequel.
© Daniel Alves, January 2008

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