Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up

Criticizing 'Shoot 'Em Up' for being ridiculous is a little like blaming sharks for eating meat. Plot, sense and any semblance of intelligence were abandoned before the project began. For what it's worth it's premise is simplicity itself: Man with No Name, well, Smith actually (Clive Owen), must protect a new born infant from an army of thugs, led by Paul Giamatti, intent on killing him. This he must do with a bewildering array of guns in a multitude of inventive ways. Guns are the raison d'etre of this movie. The play on the concept of 'hand gun' is used throughout, the gun being seen much the way the hand is treated in martial arts flicks. So we have bullets being used to push a merry-go-round, revolvers thrown like knives and hands being used to fire bullets. To push this to further heights of absurdity we have carrots, Smith's food of choice, being used as a surrogate for the trigger finger (as well as pretty lethal daggers).

The cast is fine, though given the one note nature of their roles, there's nothing much for them to do. We have the Angry Loner, the Tart with a Heart, and the Arrogant Professional Assasin, all types we have seen a million times. The direction and look of the movie, though slick, seem overly familiar too. So far, so inoffensive. What could rankle though is the hypocrisy of a movie that bases its plot on the need for anti-gun laws while celebrating gunplay in every conceivable manner possible. Like I said though, it's very difficult to take this movie serious in any way.

Given the absurd nature of the whole enterprise the only question is does it entertain. From start to finish it moves briskly along, filling the retina if not the brain. Ultimately though, adding nothing new to the genre, it begins to wear on the viewer; it seems far too familiar not to overstay even its meagre 80 minutes. There are many ways to present choreographed action and still do something original (look at Leone, Peckinpah or even John Woo). A few innovative uses of carrots are not enough. Avoid.



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