Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shoot 'Em Up

I didn't like Crank. I'm not a big fan of Boondock Saints, either; it has plenty of moments, but none of them revolve around gunplay. Willem Dafoe makes that movie, and Billy Connolly helps. Smokin' Aces is another recent movie that thinks it's a lot crazier and shocking than it really was. Shoot 'Em Up seems made of the same cloth, but surpasses all three of them in both idiocy, and somehow, enjoyment.

The movie is about a man on a park bench who sees a pregnant woman chased by thugs, and tries to save her; he manages to save the baby, and spends much of the movie running around with the newborn in one hand and a gun in the other. You know, like Hard Boiled. He also does a lot of sliding around and shooting people. I've seen a lot of people sliding around shooting guns lately. I liked The Transporter, which had some amusing Woo-inspired action sequences, but put its own crazy tack on them by making its hero have to fight unarmed most of the time.

Paul Giamatti and Clive Owen are two interesting actors who I can watch in almost anything, and they are what salvage this movie. The movie has some slick visuals and dialogue that dives headfirst into self-parody. Clive Owen is Smith, who might as well have walked out of his role in Sin City. Smith likes to eat carrots; huge orange cock-like ones. The obvious joke is that he's the invincible Bugs Bunny; the movie lets us know we're watching a cartoon by having him say "Whats up doc?" and Giamatti reply "You're a wascally wabbit." After that, I was still sneering a little, but could see what they were going for.

Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces) likes to write stories involving criminals harvesting us for our blood or organs; his amusing first flick, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane had a MacGuffin in the trunk of a classic car that turned out to be rare blood from a Mexican village that would cure a mobster's wife. The aforementioned Smokin' Aces had a hit on someone for a heart transplant. And this movie has Giamatti the Babyhunter for their bone marrow. The difference here is that Smokin' Aces got all dramatic.

Shoot 'Em Up is at least consistant, and it has some good fight music, like "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead, "If You Want Blood" by AC/DC, and "Breed" by Nirvana. It's sort of like watching a mash-up on youtube, except instead of great gunfights, we get repetitive ones conceived around sets where Smith can slide. If there was a scene with a Slip 'n Slide, I'd call it genius.

Crank also thought that making Jason Statham bone his girlfriend on a mailbox in Chinatown would be funny and shocking. When I read about the scene, I thought it would be funny. The execution was pretty stupid, and this movie has its own take on it. Smith is such a stud that he can shoot a dozen men when fucking his hooker friend and she's so amazed at his cocksmanship that she doesn't even notice. At least when Luc Besson and Quentin Tarantino and Seth Rogan come up with ideas when they're 13, it makes for amusing movies (The Fifth Element, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Superbad respectively). This just felt icky.

So why am I still watching it? While director Michael Davis isn't too original when it comes to action scenes, cribbing bullet-counting from Face/Off and babies lost during car chases from Raising Arizona, and a dozen other he manages to craft a crazy story behind the action with the help of his two slumming leads. It's bizarre but it works, and you start wondering what he'll do next. The action really isn't the draw; Smith wires up a bunch of guns for one scene, and likes jamming carrots through human heads, but that's really not the fun part. Seeing Giamatti and Owen chew up the scenery together is, however.

The movie would have been better if it was a little funnier; the dialogue is lacking, and the tone never really hits home until the end, where an inopportune phone call is the funniest part of the movie. It nearly gets serious, with a vague subplot about Smith's family, which would have completely ruined it. You don't go from having someone walk by the corpse of a woman shot breastfeeding her newborn and saying "nice knockers!" to anything remotely serious. I'll give it 2 .45's out of four.

So I've finally met one of these "cartoon gunfight" movies that sort of lives up to the hype. It's just missing one thing.

There's no scene with a Slip 'n Slide.


Cinexcellence said...

I'll have to disagree that Shoot Em Up is better than Boondock Saints, but agree that it's definitely better than the other two mentioned.

Although I really liked Ben Affleck's final scene in Smokin' Aces.

tommy salami said...

Oh, I didn't make myself clear. Between Willem Dafoe and Billy Connolly, Boondock Saints is a lot of fun. It's overrated as a cult film, but it's worth seeing if you like shoot'em ups.

J.D. said...

I've been meaning to check this one out and your comments have sealed the deal. Sounds like a fun movie.

sarah said...

mmm clive owen. Sigh.

I think its in my queue - never got in the mood to watch it yet.

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