Who wants a big slice of stupid? As summer enters its death rattles, Shoot ’Em Up would like us to pretend it’s still June—and if you can somehow pull a Jason Bourne and forget this season’s bona fide action highs, you might just enjoy yourself. The film, so self-consciously jokey as to make the Sam Raimi of The Evil Dead seem like Antonioni, throws together the tritest plot elements: a chiseled everyhero simply called Smith (Owen, in wanna-be Bond mode); his onetime girlfriend, DQ (Bellucci), a top-heavy prosty with a heart of gold; and lip-curling villain Mr. Hertz (Giamatti), who angles to rub out an infant for reasons that are not especially clear.
Cue sequence after sequence of deliriously fake blammo, much of it set to the schlock rock that probably inspired it in the first place, such as Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart.” There’s gunplay between parachutists in midair, gunplay during a pregnant woman’s labor (with Owen making a no-nonsense midwife in between rounds), gunplay midcoitus. Cringe all you want at the catchphrases looming ahead; redemptively, all three leads commit to the silliness, and even the script’s misadvised foray into antigun sloganeering can’t stall the momentum. Flush with a palpable, overgeeked sense of enthusiasm, writer-director Michael Davis arrived only recently from the straight-to-video cheapie crowd. Best not to consider this a rude invasion; the mainstream has by now long been colonized by tapeheads. What’s Z is A. Quentin would be proud.
Cast and crew