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Shoot Em Up

The Good, the Bad, and the Baby.

“Shoot Em Up” isn’t really worth watching, but there are some entertaining scenes in it, and I can’t think of any way to get at them besides watching the movie, so there you go. The plot is shallow and unnecessary, there’s no characterization to speak of, and the whole thing’s so utterly ridiculous it’ll make you laugh. Which is the best thing about the movie. It’ll make you laugh.

That is something, no doubt. There are plenty of action films out there and that make you groan, or put you to sleep (if only they’d quiet down a bit.) “Shoot Em Up” knows it’s ridiculous, does it on purpose, pushes it, and comes out with a sort of charm, even a sort of — dare I say — harmlessness as a result.

Do I have to bother with a plot summary? There’s a guy (Clive Owen) who can shoot anything and never get shot. There’s a baby that needs rescued. There’s a prostitute with a heart of gold(Monica Bellucci), and a villain (Paul Giamatti), and an evil government plot that, naturally, hinges on the baby. There are a lot of guys in black leather, some fast cars and even a tank. Get the picture?

The action scenes are sort of Jackie Chan Meets Quentin Tarantino. My favorite one involves a hand dryer in a public restroom. At times the movie approaches the Rambo effect (one guy with a pistol mowing down a hundred guys with automatic weapons) but just about every action scene is imbued with some kind of gimmick to make it more interesting, watchable, even memorable. A lot of them involve a carrot.

Too bad nothing imbues the rest of the scenes. Monica Bellucci is particularly bad, as she strains to articulate, and has no energy left for acting. She does take her clothes off, though, and that’s why she’s in this movie, no doubt. (Ever notice that she only shows up in American cinema in silly action flicks? Comic book geeks have a MAJOR crush.) There are a lot of sex jokes, innuendos, and outright situations, and maybe it’s funny, but they bothered me way more than the violence did. Both are cartoonish, but I guess it’s just way easier to go over the line when it comes to sex. There are definitely some moments I could live without. The movie is filled with one-liners, but only about half of them work. The others either come off as corny or just poorly written. What was the joke again?

Like “Sin City” and the “Kill Bill” movies before it, “Shoot Em Up” has a very clear comic book feel to its cinematography and art direction. And like a lot of comic books, it’s really better to hurry through all the talking scenes and get to the action. You could probably watch “Shoot Em Up” at twice the normal speed, still see all the stuff worth seeing, and miss all the stuff worth missing. You might not really know what’s going on plotwise, but don’t worry. You’re not missing much.


  • if you’re feeling like a pretty dumb, slightly witty, vaguely stylish action flick
  • if you’ve ever wondered how many different ways a carrot could be a lethal weapon

Not Recommended

  • if you’re offended by things like lactating prostitutes.
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