Friday, January 04, 2008

Shoot 'Em Up: Grade A

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Belluci; Writer-Director Michael Davis

This is a comedy of violence, along the lines of Kill Bill, or other Tarantino picture. Owen is the Bruce-Willis-like, James Bond-like hero against Giamatti’s evil gun manufacturer. Owen stumbles into a situation where bad guys are trying to kill a pregnant woman. He saves her (for a while) only to learn that the baby is the real target. He delivers the baby, literally, to Belluci for caretaking, but those pesky bad guys with guns just won’t let up. Why they are after the baby is not entirely clear. It’s something to do with a rare blood type needed by a senator for a marrow transplant, but the senator is also (ironically), pro gun control, so that’s why Giamatti needs to stop the senator by killing the baby. Whatever. The point is not the story, but the action and the humor. Owen and Giamatti get lots of clever one-liners. (Giamatti: Guns don’t kill people, but they sure help!). There are plentiful guts and gore, car chases, gallons of blood, an enormous body count, torture, and guns, guns, guns. But all of it is done in a campy, ironic way. Giamatti is an evil villain the way Goldfinger was an evil villain. You either get the humor or you don’t.

I especially appreciated the allusions to Owen’s career, including the James Bond role he wanted but never got. Well, he’s got it now, and it is way better than any Bond film. The skydiving scene, for example, parallels the one by Roger Moore, but is so over the top it is hilarious. Clive drives only BMW’s of course, homage to his film, The Driver. There are numerous allusions to the Eastwood-Leone spaghetti westerns, from the echoing gunshots to the sweaty-faced close-ups. Extensive borrowing from the Die-Hard series is obvious, and likewise from gritty urban Hong Kong crime cinema. Again, it is a nasty, violent picture and if you take it literally, it has no redeeming virtue, but that would be a thick-headed mistake. It is intended as a genre comedy and as a contemporary art form which demonstrates excellent technical, directing, and cinematic talent, and as that, it approaches perfection. The DVD extras are as long as the film and almost as entertaining.

No comments:

Post a Comment