Danville Express

Living - September 14, 2007

Movie review: Shoot 'Em Up **

Rating: R for pervasive strong bloody violence, sexuality and some language. Run Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Clive Owen must be on a baby kick. The intense British actor follows up last year's riveting "Children of Men" with another film in which he protects a newborn child.

But the difference is behind the scenes. Whereas "Children" was helmed by acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, "Shoot 'Em Up" is directed by unproven auteur Michael Davis, whose last effort was a widely unseen schlock horror film called "Monster Man." Rescuing an infant is an admirable character trait, but Owen will likely wish he had hired a babysitter this go around rather than waste energy on an absurd actioner and its inexperienced director.

The quirky opening shows promise: Carrot-munching Mr. Smith (Owen) sits at a bus stop as a pregnant woman hastens by while being stalked by a gun-toting brute. Smith's conscience apparently gets the best of him as he rescues the threatened woman and helps deliver her baby, all while engaged in a gunfight with an array of leather-clad creeps led by spectacled villain Hertz (Paul Giamatti). But a stray bullet leaves the woman dead and the newborn in Smith's care.

Smith soon finds that his inadvertent adoptee is at the center of a conflict between a presidential hopeful who plans to implement strict gun laws and the firearms aficionados who stand to lose from his inauguration. The sharp-shooting Smith finds help from Donna (Monica Bellucci), a lactating prostitute (yes, you read that correctly) whose unexpected motherly instincts prove invaluable.

Owen brings a palpable charisma to the role of Smith, and his magnetic performance almost makes "Shoot 'Em Up" worth the headache. Smith is an enjoyable and enigmatic character. He does the things most of us only dream of: When an inconsiderate driver wildly swerves his luxury car between lanes without a turn signal, Smith simply runs him off the road. The chemistry between Owen and Bellucci is excellent as well.

Giamatti, though, is badly miscast. The "Sideways" actor is jovial and has possibly the least menacing persona in Hollywood. When Hertz is lecturing a cartoonish group of thugs - all of whom wear virtually the same black outfit - his speech is about as intimidating as a run-in with a bunny rabbit.

The nearly non-stop action scenes are punctuated with loud rock music that could make even Beethoven eager for ear plugs. And the term "suspending disbelief" hasn't been this apropos since Democrats watched President Bush take the oath of office. Although the screenplay is at times clever and tongue-in-cheek, the absurd scenarios and forced one-liners reveal writing that is built on gimmicks.

Testosterone-driven teenage boys will hoot and holler, but "Shoot 'Em Up" is ridiculous and riddled with blood and bullets.

--Tyler Hanley

For more movie reviews or local show times, go to www.DanvilleWeekly.com

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields