Friday, September 21, 2007

Shoot Em Up

The verdict: Clive Owen shoots bad guys while doing stuff (and Monica Bellucci) but even if it's intentionally cheesy and shallow, it lacks the genuine quality to make up for that.

The rating: 5/10

Every now and again, a 'laddish' film such as 'Shoot Em Up' is released that separates the critics into two distinct camps. On the one hand, you have the lads mags, the likes of FHM and Loaded calling it "non-stop gung-ho entertainment", and on the other, you have "big papers" like The Guardian using such a movie as an example of how modern cinema is being dumbed down.

At the level of the average movie viewer, this can often mean that such a movie becomes emblematic. For example, to admit to liking such a film is a statement that you know how to enjoy watching movies. Conversely to criticise such a film can leave you open to being seen as a bit of a cultural snob.

Now, before I give you the reasons why I didn’t like this movie, I'll ask you not to get me wrong, because I like my brainless entertainment as much as anyone. However, I'll add a bit of a proviso to that statement. Jason Statham's better movies (I'm thinking of 'Crank' and 'The One', for example) may appear at first glance to be brainless, but in my opinion this is by design rather than by accident. If you scratch a little below the surface of those movies, you'll find genuine creativity – these movies might be based on simple ideas, but they are at least a little original, they are well executed, and display a good sense of humour and enough quality to entertain.

'Shoot em up' is different. The premise of the movie is so contrived, it could have been dreamed up by Awesom-o. Anyway, the premise is thus: take John Woo's 'Hard Boiled' and remove Chow-Yun Fat. Insert Clive Owen, and numerous scenes where he shoots many many bad guys while doing cool stuff (like having sex with Monica Bellucci). Now, the premise isn't so bad, but there are so many scenes in here that are just crowbarred into the script because they sounded 'cool' (in a thoroughly self-conscious way, which of course, isn't that cool).

The action in Shoot em up is mildly entertaining at times, but the script, story and characters are just props, linking the assorted scenes of over the top gunplay. I don't know about you, but if I don't care whether the good guy lives or dies, then I’m not going to get too worried about whether he survives to the end or not.

Monica Bellucci is essentially a prop in this movie, appearing every now and again to explain what's going on to the audience, and provide a bit of agreeable T&A filler material before the next action sequence. Clive Owen isn't bad, but his dry cool one-liners are really terrible. He just doesn't have the comic delivery of an action hero. Paul Giamatti hams it up nicely, but he's working with peanuts here.

I know we should all be down with post-modern ironic entertainment, where movies like 'Grindhouse' and 'Hot Fuzz' have made it legitimate to make intentionally cheesy movies, as long as there is the occasional nod to the audience and of course, the original source material. However, this approach can wander into dangerous territory if it goes too far, and 'Shoot em up' is in the kind of 'Snakes on a Plane' territory. It's knowingly cheesy, but it's still cheesy. The one-liners might be written with the intention of making you groan, but the effect is the same. The action has been constructed to be ridiculous, but at the end of the day, is that going to give the audience real entertainment? This movie effectively steals from John Woo, and doesn't reward him for invoking his iconic image.

If you watch this film with the lads over a few cans, you might get enjoy it. Maybe I was just too damn sober for it. I'm going to give it a five, but not because I'm on a moral crusade against low-brow entertainment. No, this movie gets a five because I just didn't enjoy it that much.

1 comment:

Movie Blaster said...

I like the story of this movie but I just wished they made the action scenes more believable..... Tarantino is fiddling with his "genius" moniker. I doubt he made any validation for his regard on this movie.

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