The way of the gun – and the carrot
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