People say theres no truth in advertising anymore but Shoot Em Up delivers exactly what it promises: absurdly over-the-top shoot em up after absurdly over-the-top shoot em up. It actually delivers these so enthusiastically and to such a ridiculous degree that you have to respect the film as a series of beyond fantastical gun battles and action sequences more than as an actual movie with little details such as plot, character development, solid dialogue, etc.
The embodiment of British cool and less is more, Clive Owen (Children of Men, Sin City) plays Mr. Smith, a carrot munching, horrible one-line spouting, "dangerous British nanny who stumbles upon a plot involving baby farming, gun control legislation and a presidential candidate when he rescues (after delivering, of course) a baby during the opening fire fight. The plot and set-up arent of great importance, however; the point is to give Owen the flimsiest of excuses to go on one of the most outrageous kill-crazy rampages in the history of cinema. And Owen is, without question, the reason to watch.
With baby in tow, and eventually Monica Bellucci (as a lactating prostitute/love interest), Mr. Smith doesnt exactly go to Washington (more like Toronto masquerading as NYC). However, he does kill every black clad minion Paul Giamatti (whos chewing scenery at a level that would make Pacino proud, "hooah!!!) can throw at him while attempting to figure out why everyone wants to kill his baby.
Some have described Shoot Em Up as the result of feeding a hyperactive kid nothing but sugared cereal and making him watch Hard Boiled and other "heroic bloodshed, balletic gunplay films, then asking him to write a screenplay. However, whats missing in Shoot Em Up is any semblance of the poetry or beauty a director like John Woo can infuse into his carnage to alleviate the impossibility of it all. Joe Carnahan attempted a similar feat recently with Smokin Aces and while it isnt up to the level of a film like Hard Boiled or The Killer, its above and beyond an offering like Shoot Em Up.
However, Shoot Em Up is admittedly entertaining to watch in its ridiculousness, as director Michael Davis attempts to outdo each action sequence (including a truly ludicrous skydiving shootout), but when you start to make The Transporter 2 look realistic, perhaps you need to cut the adrenaline with something just a tad. After all, eating nothing but sugar, as mom always said, will ultimately just make you sick. (Alliance Atlantis)