Shoot 'Em Up is a guilty pleasure in watching a souped up modern day Western, where a stranger rides into town, minding his own business, but his innate qualities of helping the meek and the downtrodden almost always brings him adventure uncalled for. Trouble looks for him, and he has the opportunity to show everyone, and the audience, just why he's so damn dangerous.
And dangerous is how Clive Owen played "Mr Smith", a pseudonym given to him as he's a one man army with no name, no allegiance, and a mysterious past. Nobody knows who he is and what his story his, but we know him as he gets sucked thick into the action, and follow him through his adventures of staying alive and dishing out vengeful justice on those that stand in his way. He chomps not a cigar but a carrot like an Energizer bunny that refuses to give up, and makes Paul Giamatti's Hertz look like Elma Fudd in trying to get lead pumped into the bunny.
It's an out and out action movie in the veins of Crank, and in many similar ways, played out like a violent video game too. And gratuitous violence doesn't just cut it, it has to be stylized as well While you marvel at Mr Smith's near invulnerability, as expected and a given for any hero in this genre. Bear in mind though, that it doesn't take itself too seriously, with many of the stunts and set action pieces here bordering on the incredible and the ridiculous, but hey, who's complaining? It sure does bring a chuckle or two in its attempts perhaps at ramping up such sequences for the action fan boys. But if you think Hong Kong actioners look too staged and choreographed, then this one may not be your cup of action tea.
High in its body count thanks to the deadly skills of Smith and countless of extras, Shoot 'Em Up is not just about guns guns guns, but had its fair share of sexual situations too, thanks to sex siren Monica Bellucci as a prostitute. As the saying goes, there's nothing more appealing to an audience than sex and violence, and what was pretty audacious, that perhaps had to be seen to be believed, is how the movie managed to marry both together, in a pretty laugh out loud scene that brings to mind any typical treatment that a Hong Kong Category III will adopt.
It's an adrenaline rush from beginning to end, and a loud and noisy movie that's to be filed under guilty pleasure. Clive Own is believable as a one man army - who needs the tuxedo, martini and Aston Martin? - while Paul Giamatti has enough wickedness and menace as a shady unforgiving mercenary. While it has an anti-gun message, truth is, we're here for the senseless violence it offers instead.