(This post originally appeared on April 4, 2009)
Those of you who really wanted to see this movie have probably already watched it. Those of you who haven’t and are undecided . . . well, I have a hunch you’ll either love it or hate it. I don’t think there’ll be much middle ground on this film.
It opens with a nameless stranger (Clive Owen) sitting at a bus stop munching on raw carrots. A frantic pregnant woman about to give birth runs past him with a bad guy in pursuit. Owen, against his better judgment, gets involved, winds up in a shootout with a number of would-be killers who are out to murder the woman and her baby, and rapidly proves himself to be deadlier than any of them. The woman gives birth, promptly gets killed, and Owen is stuck protecting the newborn baby from a horde of assassins led by Paul Giamatti. This leads to an almost non-stop series of very bloody, over-the-top, wildly improbable gunfights and chases. Owen’s character turns out to be just about the best shot in the world, and he can wield a carrot with lethal results, too. I’m not kidding. The Bugs Bunny references are appropriate, because SHOOT ‘EM UP is a live-action cartoon most of the time, albeit a very violent one.
Owen’s character is a cipher for most of the movie, although we eventually do find out his back-story. There’s quite a bit of plot packed in around the gunfire and explosions, so you have to keep up. I don’t know if it all makes sense in the end or not. Things move too fast to worry much about that. Watch this for the sheer audacity of the action sequences and Giamatti’s scenery-chewing performance as the lead villain, as well as Owen’s unflappable cool as he deals out death to, oh, at least two hundred of the bad guys.
Like I said above, you’ll probably either love or hate SHOOT ‘EM UP. I thought it was incredibly entertaining. But I’ll certainly understand if you watch it and say, “Well, this is just stupid.” It probably is. But sometimes I don’t mind that.