Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shoot 'Em Up

Some movies are designed to be crazy and Shoot 'Em Up is one of them. Even the great Roger Ebert liked this movie, describing it as going "much, much further than merely too far" -- coming from the screenwriter of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, that is one shitfuck of a compliment. 
It's a ludicrously excessive action flick, here legions of baddies are dispatched with handguns, machine guns, knives, fists, ropes and carrots. And, of course, it has Clive Owen. Clive Owen. If i began to sing the praises of Clive Owen, i would never stop, so i'll just let the mooning and cooing happen naturally along the way...

So Clive Owen is sitting at a bus stop somewhere in the ghetto, drinking coffee and eating a carrot (the recurring carrot will be funny at first...). A woman who looks to be about ten minutes from giving birth runs by screaming, with a gun-wielding thug in hot pursuit. Nice opener, that. Catches the attention.
Wait... that was an asshole with a gun chasing a pregnant lady, wasn't it? "Ahhhh, fuckin' hell!"

Clive Owen sighs, throws his cup away and gives chase. Soon there's a mess of gun-wieding thugs -- actually, in this film they are known as mooks -- and Clive Owen is merrily wasting them all in one of those big fight-scene warehouses full of chains and stairs. Clive Owen naturally makes short fucking work of these assholes and delivers the baby while making witty comments about their pursuers, "I hate these forty-seven year-old jackholes wearing ponytails. That ponytail does not make you look young, hip, or cool." Blam! Off with the back of his head! 

What Clive Owen hates will also be a recurring motif in this film, and will work better than the carrot. Did you know a carrot can puncture a man's skull? Neither did i. But this is far from the first or most aggressive denial of the laws of physics presented by Shoot 'Em Up.

Paul Giamatti plays our villain, Mr. Hurtz -- geddit? It's a bit of unconventional casting, sure but i can't imagine a guy who's played the schlub for thirty years not chomping at the bit to be the crazed, sadistic killer for a change. And he gets to beat up on Clive Owen (or at least shout and shoot at him) which must've been fun motivating for: "You're! So! Handsome! Women! Love! You! Even! Some dudes! I'm! A little! Chubby! Bald guy! Take! That! Hah!"

 1 merry go-round + 1 sniper rifle + 1 handgun + 1 baby = loads of fun

Anyway, mom winds up killed by a stray bullet. Clive Owen keeps trying to abandon baby, but every time it is made clear that baby and everyone around baby will die without Clive Owen to protect them. So Clive Owen goes to see lactating prostitute (O, what a brave new world we live in where that is a commonly understood job title.) Donna Quintana -- yeah, D.Q., we geddit -- to pay her to watch/feed "it," as he refers to the baby. She throws Clive Owen and his $5,000 out of her bedroom. (Crazy, but as we all know: No matter how hot he is, some woman somewhere has had enough of his bullshit. Still, Clive Owen and five grand...) Of course, then the bad guy shows up. Of course then Clive Owen comes back to rescue her.

He takes D.Q. and baby back to his loft... which has planters full of carrots. Seriously, this is getting old. Clive Owen and D.Q. finally bond with baby, baby who enjoys watching guns being cleaned and loves heavy metal music -- yup, kid has found the right ersatz parents. Of course bad guy chases them there, another shootout (to the tune of "Ace of Spades" i might add). 

Many movies are gun-obsessed, but Shoot 'Em Up is special. There's an odd specificity about how many bullets are left, is the safety on, is there a gun lock, is the lock biometric, etc.There is much fixtation on what brands and calibers of guns people are carrying. A gun manufacturer is a character, a gun warehouse is a set, second amendment rights and Washington politics are the ostensible motivator of the plot. (And, weirdly, i think this movie is pro-gun control. I think....) The gun warehouse set piece is pretty spectacular, a sort of Rube Golderbeg maze of ropes and machine guns.

Even when pursued by a dozen killers, Clive Owen still takes time out to sideswipe rude drivers. "You wanna know the difference between a luxury car and a porcupine... with a porcupine, the pricks are on the outisde." Yes, indeed. Clive Owen hides hooker and baby in a tank, then goes off in search of whomever is trying to kill the baby... which is fast becoming his baby, kinda...


So, why is the nebbish trying to kill the baby? Let's just say that it has something to do with politics and medical research and the second amendment. Or, as they say, "America: Where a poor man can become rich and a pussy can become a tough guy with a gun in his hand." (Well, at least half of that is true.) Clive Owen also has some kind of backstory that we don't really need: He's angry about mooks and nebbishes abusing his girl and trying to kill a baby. What more motivation is required? This is a CARTOON! The scene with the gunfights as people jump from an airplane with and without parachutes? Made me laugh like a Looney Tune! Plot is something you just kinda dispense with as quickly and cleanly as possible and let people lean back and enjoy the ride.

In it's over-the-top mania, Shoot 'Em Up is reminiscent of another divinely craptacular flick, Drive Angry. There's a mysterious hero, a baby in danger, a fight-off-the-bad-guys-while-fucking-the-chick sequence. Drive Angry has a meta-rural/suburban white-trash motor court setting; Shoot 'Em Up has the more-common faux-noir urban milieu

Overall, Shoot 'Em Up is a brain-dead good time at the movies. Clive Owen continues in the badass vein of the man who can cut off  Madonna's balls without even taking his hands off the wheel of his fast car. Did i mention that he looks stunning in a tuxedo -- Clive Owen was apparently the first choice for the Brosnan-replacement Bond and, while i am a fan of Daniel Craig, i still think Clive Owen would have been incredible.  Still could be, y'know...

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