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Michael Davis
Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk, Daniel Pilon
Writing Credits:
Michael Davis

Just another family man making a living.

A gritty, fast-paced action thriller, Shoot 'Em Up kicks into high gear with a memorable opening scene and never relents. Clive Owen stars as Mr. Smith, a mysterious loner who teams up with an unlikely ally (Monica Belluci) to protect a newborn baby from a determined criminal (Paul Giamatti) who hunts them throughout the bowels of the city.

Box Office:
$46 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.716 million on 2108 screens.
Domestic Gross
$12.796 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital EX 5.1
English DTS 6.1 ES
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 1/1/08

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Michael Davis
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “Ballet of Bullets: Making Shoot ‘Em Up” Featurette
• Scene Animatics with Optional Commentary
• Theatrical Trailers
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 26, 2007)

When you encounter a flick called Shoot ‘Em Up, you don’t expect a quiet, subtle experience. Indeed, this 2007 action effort does its best to live up to its title. We meet Smith (Clive Owen), a decidedly reluctant hero. As he sits at a bus stop, baddies pursue a seriously pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) and plan to kill her. While not eager to do so, Smith intervenes and ends up as the surrogate father to the baby – born during the fight, of course.

As we soon learn, Baby Oliver was the real target of the hit, and crazed assassin Hertz (Paul Giamatti) attempts to follow through on his mission to off the newborn. Still reluctant, Smith tries to drop off Oliver with Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci), a hooker who specializes in lactation. She also doesn’t want to get involved, but when Hertz threatens her and Smith comes to her rescue, she ends up as part of the intrigue. The movie follows the attempts for Smith and the others to stay alive while he also attempts to find out what makes Oliver a target.

First sign that Shoot wants to subvert genre expectations: during the initial close-up of our lead, he sneers into the camera – and chomps on a carrot stick. Minutes later, he spikes that same carrot right through a baddie’s brain and concludes the scene with a pithy “eat your vegetables”.

Yes folks, we’re smack dab in the middle of Action Film Parody Land, a place in which a hero can deliver a baby while in the midst of a violent battle – and shoot off the umbilical cord, all before we’ve hit the movie’s five-minute mark. Flicks of this sort walk a very fine line between parody and self-parody. The Big Hit managed to stay on the satisfying side of that line, while Smokin’ Aces ended up as idiotic and self-consciously quirky.

Shoot occasionally threatens to walk down the Aces side of the street, but it usually avoids those pitfalls. The beauty of the genre is that it can have its cake and eat it too. When it degenerates into action flick conventions, it can claim to mock them, so we can’t criticize it for those trends.

Not that this happens a lot during Shoot. Sure, we see lots of stock situations found in tons of other action films, but it amplifies their intensity times 100. It makes fun of the genre via its use of insane scenarios. Most movies of this sort – hello, Mr. Bond! - put their heroes up against hordes of foes and place them in clearly impossible circumstances. When Shoot does this, it portrays things in such a playful and over the top manner that it clearly depicts the ridiculousness of the scenarios.

It also amplifies the graphic nature of the violence. Boy, I’d love to see a TV edit for this flick; it’d probably run about 10 minutes, as there’s almost nothing to it other than calamity and bloodshed. A lot of scenes with grotesquely exaggerated violence occur, so if you’re squeamish, you’ll want to stay away from it.

But if you dig that kind of over the top nuttiness, you’ll have a good time. One positive here comes from the cast. They embrace the lunacy of the film but also manage to ground it in an odd way. Owen doesn’t try too hard to humanize Smith, as we don’t really want quiet, tender moments here; the film indulges in a few, but even those feel like parody. Nonetheless, Owen creates an amusing anti-hero who we can almost buy as the world’s greatest ass-kicker.

And then there’s Giamatti. He swallows scenery in giant gulps and plays the role with a dark glee that he can’t bother to contain. There’s nothing to his part other than cruelty and sadism, and Giamatti clearly has a blast. He almost steals the film with his leering, sneering turn as Hertz.

One could certainly find plenty of flaws in Shoot ‘Em Up, starting with the completely muddled story. However, those gripes would miss the point. This is an intentionally absurd flick that knows what it wants to be and achieves its goals.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Shoot ‘Em Up appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No problems emerged during this strong transfer.

At all times, sharpness seemed very good. Even wide shots looked crisp and concise, as I noticed no instances of softness. Jagged edges and edge enhancement appeared absent, and only a smidgen of shimmering crept into the presentation. No issues with source flaws popped up at any time.

Like all the modern action flicks it parodied, Shoot went with an intensely stylized palette. The dominant hues varied from shot to shot, but the movie usually depicted them in a manner that made them very noticeable; for instance, yellow scenes would look really yellow. Within those design parameters, the colors appeared very good. They were vivid and dynamic at all times. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows were clear and smooth. I found nothing about which to complain here.

For the audio, Shoot ‘Em Up came with both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES soundtracks. I noticed virtually no differences between the two mixes. I thought they sounded identical.

That was fine with me, as both tracks offered intense affairs. Literally from start to finish, the film went with an aggressive soundfield that blasted at us. Gunfire constituted the majority of the material, but we also got lots of cars and other moving vehicles that would zip around us. The audio used all five channels in an active manner that meant the material virtually assaulted us. At times this threatened to become almost overwhelming, but it seemed perfectly in keeping with the style of filmmaking on display, so the mix suited the flick.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech never became buried in the assault, as the lines were concise and crisp. Music was also able to find its way out from under the effects. The mix of rock songs and score both provided lively, dynamic material. And effects seemed very good. They were quite loud, of course, and they showed positive clarity and delineation. Bass packed a good punch and accentuated the material. Shoot came with audio that should please the film’s fans.

In terms of extras, we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Michael Davis. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that examines influences and story issues, cast, characters and performances, visual design and related elements, music, sets and locations, action scenes, and pretty much anything else you'd want to learn.

My only minor complaint here comes from the "I like" factor. Davis frequently peppers us with comments that "I like 'X'" and "I like 'Y'". This can get tedious.

However, Davis provides more than enough quality information to compensate for that. He tears through the film at a mile a minute and rarely takes a pause. Davis offers a slew of interesting notes and makes this a lively and interesting chat.

Nine Deleted/Alternate Scenes fill a total of eight minutes and three seconds. These include “Gum Chewing” (0:21), “Blood Trail” (0:57), “Hertz Phones Wife” (0:38), “’Hickies In Worse Places’” (0:36), “Name That Baby” (0:27), “Crib Machine Gunning” (0:21), “Wall Escape” (1:10), “Longer Torture Scene” (2:13) and “Longer Epilogue Set Up” (1:18). Since the sequences average less than a minute in length, you shouldn’t expect much from them. We get a little more of the relationship between Hertz and his wife, and “Escape” offers a cool bit of business. That’s the only one I’d really have liked to see in the final flick, as the others are superfluous.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Davis. The director gives us a little info about the sequences and also makes sure we know why he gave them the boot. Davis continues to be interesting and informative.

Next comes a documentary called Ballet of Bullets: Making Shoot ‘Em Up. This 52-minute and 45-second show includes movie shots, snippets from the set, and interviews. We hear from Davis, producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford, chief weapons specialist Charles Taylor, animatronics/special makeup effects designer Paul Jones, baby actors’ mother Eva Mende-Gibson, on-set effects supervisor Brendon Taylor, stunt double Daryl Patchett, special effects coordinator Colin Chilvers, 2nd unit director Eddir Perez, production designer Gary Frutkoff, director of photography Peter Pau, special effects supervisor Tony Kenny, stunt coordinator Jamie Jones, and actors Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, and Stephen R. Hart. “Ballet” looks at the project’s origins and development, influences, script and story issues, cast, characters and performances, the choice of weapons, animatronic babies and effects, stunts and action scenes, set and visual design, locations, and issues related to the day-to-day production.

Even with all the info Davis provides in his commentary, “Ballet” provides a bunch of new details. It also uses footage from the set to broaden our horizons. It digs into a mix of involving topics and becomes a very good documentary.

Animatics lets us look at the planning stages for 16 scenes. Taken together, these run a total of 22 minutes and 20 seconds. Don’t expect smooth CG animation for these sequences. Instead, we get crude but lively hand-drawn sketches packed together to make rough animation. They give us a fun look at the conceptual work done for the film. I especially like Davis’s self-portrait introduction and the cheesy test footage in “Experiment”.

My only problem with “Animatics” comes from its presentation. It allows you to see the final product as well as the animation, but you can’t do so side-by-side. An easier comparison method would be much more satisfying.

We can also check out the “Animatics” with or without commentary from Davis. He tells us about the development of the sequences and issues related to their completion. Once again, Davis gives us plenty of useful notes.

Three Trailers appear. We get the “Addictive TV Remix Trailer” along with the “Theatrical Trailer” and the “Red Band Trailer”. As usual, some ads appear at the start of the DVD. We discover promos for Be Kind Rewind, Harold and Kumar 2, The Number 23, Mister Woodcock, The Invasion, The Brave One, The Hard Easy, MI-5 and Rush Hour 3. These clips also appear in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks area.

Anyone who aspires to find a realistic action flick should stay far away from Shoot ‘Em Up. However, those who just want to veg with an intentionally over the top action parody will enjoy it. The movie pours on the violence and never makes a lick of sense, but you’ll have too much fun to care. The DVD provides excellent picture and audio along with a nice roster of extras headlined by a very good audio commentary. This flick is too violent for a wide audience, but fans of wild action will dig it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.0555 Stars Number of Votes: 18
2 3:
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