© 2007 Ray Wong
The most ironic thing about Michael Davis's "gun porn," Shoot 'em Up, is the central plot element on gun control. In a way, it's like watching an adult movie in which the characters are rallying against pornography.
Smith (Clive Owen) happens to be waiting at a bus stop when a pregnant woman runs past him. She's being chased by a gunman. Reluctantly, Smith interferes and during an extended shootout, he delivers the baby. Unfortunately, the mother gets killed in the gunfire, and Smith is left with the baby to protect from the bad guys, headed the an ex-FBI agent, Hertz (Paul Giamatti).
Smith pays a visit to prostitute Donna (Monica Bellucci) specializing in "lactation" to help feed the baby (Um, aren't there any baby formulas in town?). But Hertz and his men seem to be always only one step behind Smith and Donna. While on the run, Smith discovers that Hertz works for firearms tycoon Hammerson (Stephen McHattie), and their goal is to kill all the surrogate mothers and babies, who carry a possible bone marrow match for the sperm donor: Senator Rutledge (Daniel Pilon). It seems like the only way out of this jam is for Smith to find the Senator.
Clive Owen (Children of Men) is in his Sin City-esque superhero form. Chomping on carrots like Bugs Bunny, Owen shoots his way through almost everything, even during a hot scene with Monica Bellucci. Throw subtlety out the door; this role is all about machismo. Paul Giamatti (The Nanny Diary), on the other hand, does a deadly Elmer Fudd impersonation with 120% nastiness. That's probably the most ruthless, blood-thirsty character with no redeeming value whatsoever that Mr. Giamatti has done.
Monica Bellucci (The Brothers Grimm) is all sex and motherhood here, an odd combination that works rather well for the sultry actress. One can't watch Bellucci anymore without thinking of the "Got Milk" commercials. Stephen McHattie (300) and Daniel Pilon (Deception) have relatively minor roles playing Hammerson and the Senator respectively. In addition, there are hundreds of interchangeable actors and stuntmen who play various body parts.
Written and directed by Michael Davis (Monster Man), the film is preposterous. The sole purpose of the script to get these characters into unlikely situations so they can perform one of the 64,000 shootouts in the entire film. There's no logic involved, and the stunts are over the top and implausible. There are so much blood and body parts flying around it's kind of difficult to keep track.
The characters are extremely cartoonish, from Mr. Bugs Bunny (Owen) to Elmer Fudd (Giamatti) to Jessica Rabbit (Bellucci), not to mention the faceless villains and army of men in black. There are really no twists, only graphic violence after violence until the very end in an orgasmic explosion of gunpowder and guts.
And yet, the film is oddly satisfying in an obscene way. I understand what Michael Davis tries to accomplish here -- and he admitted that he was trying to make a violent, live action version of the Looney Toons. By that standard, I think Davis has succeeded in bringing us one of the most gratuitous, gory, mindless video game-like gun porn in history. The stunts are rather beautifully executed and the action sequences are slick and fast. Everything is in your face, including the sexual overtone: the entire film is one grand sexual fantasy culminating to a super climax. It's porn for teenage boys and guys who haven't subscribed to the Playboy channel. As one character said to another, "That's what it means by shooting your load."
Absolutely no character development (unless you consider flimsy background information and character archetypes character development), subtlety or depth, it's exactly what Mr. Davis wants; and I suspect that's exactly what his target audiences expect as well. If that's your thing, come on over and shoot 'em up -- you'll have a good time.
Stars: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk, Daniel Pilon
Director: Michael Davis
Writer: Michael Davis
Distributor: New Line
MPAA Rating: R for extreme violence, language, nudity and sexuality
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Script – 5
Performance – 6
Direction – 8
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 8
Production – 8
Total – 6.8 out of 10