Shoot 'em Up

That's right, there's no "Th". It's a silly title, more suited to a first-person shooter video game, but that's good, because it's also your first warning to suspend every last shred of disbelief. Pretend it's an animated movie, maybe some sort of violent anime, and you'll be in the proper mood to enjoy this.

I'm not quite sure where to start explaining, it, though. The basic plot is as simple as any video game: Clive Owen (Children of Men, now out on DVD and Blu-ray, so go buy it if you haven't already) plays the first-person shooter, "Mr. Smith", a mystery man who lives in an abandoned building with a pet rat. He isn't so much a character as a collection of quirks (Smith, not the rat), constantly going on rants about what he really hates, like bad drivers and people who slurp their sodas; and with an apparently never-ending supply of carrots somewhere on his person. But he's a good guy, so when he sees a pregnant woman being chased by gunmen down an otherwise deserted street, he comes to her rescue. He delivers her baby in the middle of a shootout, and things just get more improbable from there.

Yes, I said more improbable. It seems to be set in New York, certainly someplace very large and crammed full of people, and yet the main characters are practically tripping over each other constantly, no matter how far any of them run. But the point is, Clive Owen is now stuck with this baby, because mommy didn't survive the firefight and he has no idea where daddy is. Fortunately, he knows a hooker with a Heart of Gold (Monica Bellucci) who's recently lost her own baby and is therefore his only option for feeding this kid, because baby formula is unavailable in the greater New York area. (Just run with it.)

And since New York is such a small town, the bad guys who want the baby also know about this hooker, and go after her, and the chase is on. Like any good video game, it gets more and more violent as you go, and I can't even begin to guess the death total. One scene alone has fifty men killed. Mostly people just get shot, but they have some other really gruesome deaths, so I guess someone had fun thinking them up. Did you know you can kill a man with a carrot? Well, maybe you can't, really, but you can in this movie. And they do it to me again with the helicopter blades. Again you can see it coming a mile off, though, so it's easy to avoid looking.

Mixed in with all the improbable action are a lot of bad jokes and puns and just about every cutsey little thing they could squeeze in. I can't share most of them here, though, since I prefer to keep these reviews rated PG at worst. Early on, though, the main bad guy, Hertz, played by Paul Giamatti (Lady in the Water), gives an example I can use: "Why is having a gun better than having a wife?" he asks his goons, and answers his own question this way: "You can put a silencer on a gun." Not nice at all, but at least clean. There are also lots of bizarre, MacGyver-like tricks with guns and bullets and of course duct tape, black-suited government agents that look like they should be trying to kill Neo, and lots of stuffed dogs. Actual dead, stuffed dogs, not the kind you buy for your kids (at least I hope those aren't the kind people buy for their kids).

You can see why I had trouble figuring out where to start. It's sort of a weird mix of some Quentin Tarantino film like Reservoir Dogs, The Matrix, and a spoof of a Bond film. Especially the end credits, so stay to watch those if you like the weird opening montages for the Bond flicks. And I'm still having trouble rating it. I love Clive Owen. He can manage to make any role work, apparently, given that he has almost nothing in the way of character development in the script but still manages to do something with the character. So I can't rate it too low, even if I did keep expecting it all to turn out to be someone's long, drawn-out dream, because it was all just that weird.

We'll go with three idols. Maybe two and seven-eighths, because three is my usual minimum for wanting to own a movie, and I'm not entirely sure I'd buy this one. It's got enough improbabilities to keep anyone who likes to calculate odds busy for a lifetime, enough bullets to support a third-world revolution, and Clive Owen, but overall, I'm not sure the combination really does it for me. So just remember two things: don't take any part of the movie too seriously, and don't ever try doing any of the things you see on screen to a real baby. Yikes.

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Movie in a nutshell: Mr. Smith, gun, carrot, bad guy, baby bottles

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