Shoot 'Em Up

Dir: Michael Davis
Star: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie

This film makes it perfectly clear exactly where it is aiming in the opening sequence, where Mr. Smith (Owen) kills the first of many evil henchmen. With a carrot. Yes. A carrot. You can't help but admire a movie that lays it all out inside the first two minutes, basically saying "You either think that the use of a vegetable as a lethal weapon is the coolest thing you've ever seen...or there's the door." We fall firmly into the former category, and consequently had a blast. It's not unlike Ultraviolet; in both, a well-oiled killing machine finds itself protecting a child from a leader who wants the kid for his own, nefarious reason. And the sanctity of life can only be preserved by taking its burden away from large numbers of faceless minions. Here, Smith recruits wet-nurse hooker DQ (Bellucci) as a surrogate mother, while Hertz (Giamatti) tries to ensure the new-born child becomes a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, with extreme prejudice.

The film does a great job of dragging you into a completely bizarre, alternate universe where it's okay to cut a baby's umbilical cord by shooting it off. I sense Owen signed up for this as a giant middle-finger to the Broccolis, after they passed him over for the Bond franchise - in one scene, he tries to use 007's signature Walther PPK, but it jams on him, and he calls it a "piece of shit." There's a great sense of morbid humor right the way through, and Owen is the perfect person to bring it out, for example, ranting as he drives about how he hates motorists who don't use their turn signals. I kinda begrudge the film the efforts to introduce a plot into proceedings. Davis might have been better off not bothering, and just letting us fill in the blanks, rather than convoluted threads which, curiously, appear to include a pro-gun control message. Otherwise, however, this fine celebration of the OTT action flick has made a (somewhat belated) declaration of its candidature for 2007's Ten Best films.

February 2008

Park Life
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