The way of the gun – and the car­rot

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

SHOOT ’EM UP Di­rected by Michael Davis. Star­ring Clive Owen, Paul Gia­matti, Mon­ica Bel­luc­cci 18 cert, gen re­lease, 87 min MOVIE ti­tles don’t get any more con­cise than Shoot ’Em Up, an as­sem­bly of re­lent­less ac­tion scenes strung to­gether with an out­landish plot­line that need not con­cern the viewer any more than it ev­i­dently did writer-di­rec­tor Michael Davis. There is an irony in there, how­ever, and prob­a­bly a de­lib­er­ate joke, when it’s ex­plained that the story hinges on a politi­cian’s dec­la­ra­tion to tighten up US gun laws.

The fire­power kicks in within min­utes. Mr Smith (Clive Owen), an English­man in New York, is chew­ing on a car­rot at a bus stop when a heav­ily preg­nant wo­man runs past with a gun­man in pur­suit. Smith makes in­ge­nious use of his car­rot to dis­pense with the killer, then takes out a dozen oth­ers while de­liv­er­ing the baby. Time is pre­cious, so he cuts the um­bil­i­cal cord with a bul­let.

When the mother dies in the gun­fire, Smith is left hold­ing the baby. Con­ve­niently, he just hap­pens to know a lac­tat­ing pros­ti­tute, DQ (Mon­ica Bel­lucci), whose spe­cial­ity is cater­ing for men who like to wear nap­pies.

There is no respite, how­ever, as a wholly amoral crim­i­nal (Paul Gia­matti) some­how sum­mons hun­dreds of as­sas­sins to kill the baby. But they haven’t bar­gained on Smith’s re­source­ful­ness. Even when Smith and DQ take a break for sex, the killers threaten coitus in­ter­rup­tus and worse, but the cou­ple keep their cool, gamely car­ry­ing on while Smith slays the in­trud­ers.

Warm­ing to his new role as sur­ro­gate fa­ther, Smith chides a wo­man for smack­ing her son and spanks her pub­licly for be­ing a child-beater. Then he gets back to the main busi­ness of killing peo­ple as the chase con­tin­ues and the body count soars.

The di­rec­tor’s tongue re­mains firmly in cheek through­out this out­ra­geously over-the-top genre ex­er­cise in­spired by John Woo’s Hard Boiled (1992). Edited to achieve a fre­netic pace, Shoot ’Em Up ul­ti­mately trig­gers more laugh­ter than ten­sion. Slum­ming it, Owen, Bel­lucci and Gia­matti re­main ad­mirably dead­pan through­out. MICHAEL DWYER Soun­track re­viewed, page 15

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