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  Shoot 'Em Up Should Have Taken That Left At Albuquerque
Year: 2007
Director: Michael Davis
Stars: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk, Daniel Pilon, Ramona Pringle, Julian Richings, Tony Munch, Scott McCord, Wiley M. Pickett, Stephen R. Hart, David Ury, Mike Rad, Andy Mackenzie, Laura DeCartaret, Ryan Finn
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: A man calling himself Mr Smith (Clive Owen) is sitting on a bus stop bench eating a carrot when a pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) rushes by in a state of panic, not to mention a state of labour. Suddenly a car screeches into the street, crashes and a man gets out brandishing a weapon, then rushes after the woman yelling "You're dead, bitch!" Mr Smith isn't about to allow her to be murdered in her condition, so follows, manages to fend off the assassin with his snack, then has to face a gang of hitmen who appear from nowhere as the baby is being born, leading him to turn both midwife and protector...

There was a strain of credulity-defying action thrillers that arrived in the early twenty-first century which looked to have been informed by the kind of computer games their target audience had been playing in their leisure time, and Shoot 'Em Up was one of those, a film that lived right up to its title. On the surface just your common or garden, straightforward chase movie with added gunplay and plenty of it, this had a number of quirks, including somewhat bizarrely a lecture in mind about weapons control, as the characters are heard rhapsodising about their pistols and machine guns to the point where the unimpressed Mr Smith seems to be satirizing the American love of bullets and general macho bullshit.

Well, some Americans' love of bullets and macho bullshit anyway, but part of inscrutability of this film is you're never quite sure how sincerely to take it all as it operates on a level near to outright spoofing of its genre, yet could also be judged to be entirely serious in its intentions; certainly the writer and director Michael Davis comes across as genuine about his wish to protect the baby by any means necessary. He was none too bothered about his mother, however, as she gets a slug in the forehead about five minutes in, leaving Mr Smith as the infant's foster father - but every baby needs a mother too, especially as dads are not equipped to offer milk.

So in a development which is either revolting or weirdly apt, the reluctant gunman goes to visit an old friend, a prostitute called Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci) who specialises in offering her breast milk to clients who get off on seeing what it tastes like. Who better to become the child's wet nurse, and naturally, mother as the film has a lot of faith in the family unit, no matter how unorthodox the arrangement of how they got together may have been. She doesn't want any part of this at first, but when she gets paid a visit by the movie's main baddie, crime boss Hertz (Paul Giamatti), she changes her tune as he is very threatening towards her until Mr Smith returns to save the day.

The relationship between Smith and Hertz courts comparisons with that of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd: Smith munches on carrots and is not averse to the wry witticism, and Hertz is the constantly foiled hunter who even calls him a "wascally wabbit" after being asked "What's up, Doc?" by his newfound foe. Those cartoon parallels will explain why much of this takes place in such an unreal landscape, urban and gritty but also where people can jump off bridges into cars without a scratch, or have a million bullets fired at them but not be hit once while still managing to pick off the assailants - there are even contraptions employed by the hero to get his way which he must have assembled in record time. A few missteps are par for the course, such as a bid for pathos which falls flat and a streak of outright nastiness which takes the edge off the humour, but with the action flying this thick and fast, that probably won't detain fans for long. Music by Paul Haslinger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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