SHOOT ‘EM UP
** (out of 5)
September 7, 2007
Clive Owen as SMITH
Paul Giamatti as HERTZ
Monica Bellucci as DONNA QUINTANO
Stephan McHattie as HAMMERSON
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Michael Davis
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Most people who know me are aware that I am a fan of excess. Just come to a buffet with me sometime, and you’ll see for yourself.
There have been many films in the past that are nothing more than exercises in excess, and more often than not, I enjoy them. However, even I have to say that sometimes there can be too much excess.
“Shoot ‘Em Up” is nothing but an hour an a half of excess. Enough is enough about five minutes into this movie, and the rest of it is – pardon the pun – overkill.
The movie starts off with a gun battle, which isn’t very surprising considering the film’s title. Clive Owen plays a mysterious man who sees a pregnant woman being chased by some bad dudes. Our buddy Clive intervenes and, after the pregnant woman is killed, he unofficially adopts the baby and saves it from the bad guys.
Because he doesn’t know a whole lot about babies (which actually doesn’t make too much sense when you learn more about his character later in the film, but let’s set that aside for now), he gets help from a friend of his named Donna. Why does he go to her? It turns out that she’s a lactating prostitute, and the baby’s hungry. Apparently there wasn’t a drug store nearby that sold Similac.
I’ve heard other people praise this film because it didn’t take itself seriously. But I don’t think that’s the case. They were too serious about not taking themselves seriously. The filmmakers seemed to think that all they needed to do was make things bigger and bigger, ergo funnier and funnier. But the film just got so overblown it was like Pamela Anderson after too much plastic surgery. Bigger isn’t always better.
Paul Giamatti, who is normally brilliant, is drawn and quartered in this movie. He lays the character on so thick, it’s almost embarrassing. Sure, that’s part of the gag, but it just goes too far. Think of a good excess-driven film as a caricature drawn by an artist at an amusement park. There’s a finesse and style that needs to be present for this to work. Caricatures only work when the right pieces are embellished, but not too much. Imagine a caricature of Bob Hope with a 26-inch nose, and you can imagine how it can be overdone.
To complicate things – and to be ultimately insulting to the audience – this movie tries to make a serious social stand on gun control. I almost fell out of my chair when this came up. I have grown to tolerate (but not necessarily accept) Hollywood’s desire to preach at us in films. But to have a movie called “Shoot ‘Em Up,” which features more gunplay than Quentin Tarantino’s demo reel, preach about gun control is just plain ridiculous.
I didn’t see anything new in this movie, just more of what I’ve seen before. Sure, it has a cool skydiving scene, but that has been done many times before, and usually more effectively. (Go rent “Moonraker” if you want to see the ultimate free-fall fight scene.) Everything else was so contrived and overblown that it surpassed silliness into the realm of stupid.
It’s this kind of over-the-top silliness that shoots this movie in the foot. Watching this movie was like eating a hot fudge sundae with about a quart of hot fudge on it. I like hot fudge, but there’s such a thing as too much.
When it’s all boiled down, it’s really nothing more than “Charlie’s Angels 2” all over again… with Clive Owen and a fetish prostitute instead of three young, hot chicks.