Shoot ‘Em Up Review
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Back when I was an advertising hack, a wise creative director taught me a very important lesson. I had put my heart and soul into writing a brochure about some sort of industrial machinery, and the client had returned the draft with his own very bad and horribly cheesy copy in place of mine. I went whining to my creative director, who sat me down and told me the most important thing that he’d learned in his years in the biz: “You know,” he told me, “sometimes you’ve just gotta embrace the cheese.”

While I’m still not convinced that my client’s cheesy copy belonged on his brochure, I am convinced that my creative director was right—and I’ve since learned to embrace the cheese. And that’s why I loved Shoot ‘Em Up—because it’s pretty much as cheesy as an action movie can get.

This non-stop adrenaline rush stars Clive Owen as Mr. Smith—a dark and mysterious guy who simply finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. After he sees a gang of thugs chasing down a very pregnant woman who’s obviously about to give birth, Smith ends up in the middle of a shoot out, during which he successfully delivers the baby while simultaneously gunning down a warehouse full of anonymous henchmen. Though the mother doesn’t make it, the baby does. But it’s pretty clear that someone wants the baby dead—so Smith joins up with a beautiful hooker known as DQ (Monica Bellucci) to take care of the baby while he tries to figure out who the baby is and why so many people want him dead.

Shoot ‘Em Up is the weirdest, wildest, craziest action movie I’ve seen in ages. It’s bold and bloody, and it’s often offensive. It has an almost comic-book feel to it (think Sin City), complete with over-the-top shootouts that will make your head spin. It’s gruesome, but it’s also hilarious—in the most sick and twisted of ways. Fortunately, the filmmakers never make the mistake of taking the movie seriously. Clearly, they, too, have learned to embrace the cheese. Right from the beginning, it’s obvious that they’re all just having a little bit of fun—so you know it’s okay to laugh at the corny lines and the ridiculous situations. In fact, you’re supposed to laugh. Please feel free.

Even though the action is pretty much non-stop, though, Shoot ‘Em Up doesn’t just rely on the action to keep you entertained (a mistake made by last year’s Crank). It may have a simple story, but at least there’s enough of a mystery there to hold your attention during those few moments without gunfire.

To add to the fun, Owen is cooler than cool as the mysterious Mr. Smith. He’s a dark and demented James Bond—with a twist of MacGyver. The guy can do it all without breaking a sweat. He can deliver babies. He can take down armies of thugs in the most unlikely of situations—without taking a single hit. And he knows a million and one uses for a carrot. As if that weren’t enough, he can do it all while effortlessly delivering the worst one-liners ever written. Though I still think Owen would be a much better Bond than Daniel Craig, if I can’t have him as Bond, I’ll happily take him as Smith.

With many action movies, I’m ready for it to end long before the credits finally roll—but when Shoot ‘Em Up came to an end (after only 80 action-packed minutes), I still wanted more. And that’s the way it should be. It’s violent and cheesy and totally over-the-top—and it’s a whole heck of a lot of fun.

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