Andy Bockelman: ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ a white-knuckle thrill ride
October 5, 2007
Craig — The action flick “Shoot ‘Em Up” hardly has any kind of profundity, but as luck would have it, that is the entire basis of its appeal.
The city is a scary place and loner Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) wallows in the despair of his surroundings. When he sees a pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) being attacked by a group of men, he comes to her aid and delivers her baby in the process. The woman gets killed by the gun-wielding maniacs so Smith makes off with the baby, dodging bullets every step of the way while firing back quite a few in return. The ringleader of this gang, Hertz (Paul Giamatti), has a lot of stake in eradicating the tiny target and employs every facility at his disposal to track down.
Smith. However, the mysterious Good Samaritan is not so easy to catch, especially when he has the help of a world-weary prostitute (Monica Bellucci) and an innovative arsenal at hand.
Owen is keenly entertaining as the brooding character, who is described as “the angriest man in the world.” The straight-faced, carrot-munching hero is ridiculously unstable; he is able to kill a man with no guilt whatsoever, but ready to run a motorist off the road for littering. Alternately, Giamatti has fun as Hertz, an unbelievably sordid antagonist who is so vile that he actually manages to make this Mr. Smith look like a Jimmy Stewart character.
Gorgeous Bellucci is also effective in a role that some viewers admittedly may find repugnant.
The film is rude, crude, and proud of it. Classified alongside movies like “Snakes on a Plane,” it boldly states from the beginning that it is the kind of movie that is purely for audiences looking for an adrenaline boost.
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What is unfortunate about this is that the premise is not always fulfilled; in too many points, the story gets uncomfortably real. On another level, there are all kinds of violent scenes, which are smooth and creatively filmed.
To those who would prefer the deeper plot and less or no brutality, it is clear that this movie is not for you. With the surplus of warped elements that is part of the adventures of Mr. Smith it is difficult to find much fault in being such a cautious viewer.
While it is aimed squarely at a generation that is desensitized to violence, “Shoot ‘Em Up” pretty much delivers what it promises – a gritty, white-knuckle thrill ride.