There comes a time in every dramatic actor’s career when he just wants to get silly. A time when he just wants to drop the heavy dialogue and act out the action dreams that he had as a little boy.
When that time comes, as long as the actors have paid their dues with their share of quality work, the audience owes it to them to let them have their fun. Sometimes, the audience might even indulge with the actors.Such is the case with Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti in “Shoot ‘Em Up.”
Enter director and writer Michael Davis’ twisted fanboy world where Mr. Smith (Owen), a carrot-chomping rogue, stages shootouts while holding a baby, skydives while having a shootout and has sex with a lactating prostitute while engaged in a shootout. Oh, and Paul Giamatti is the villain.
“Shoot ‘Em Up” is another homage to cinematic ridiculousness – akin to the absurd action referenced in “Hot Fuzz” and the tastelessness exhibited in “Grindhouse.” Most shocking about these types of films is that even seemingly talentless projects take quite a bit of talent to create.
Davis created a story with situations so over-the-top that audiences are sure to laugh at its absurdity. Rather than sit there and think, “This stuff is completely improbable,” the audience revels in its zaniness.
Davis’ shots are wonderfully cheesy and frenetic. Swift close-ups and wacky, tilted angles make for humorous scenes and heighten the over-the-top acting.Which brings us to Owen and Giamatti…These witty actors deliver deliciously playful performances that make them look like teenagers who just got the film break of their lives. Giamatti, though nerdy and unassuming in physique, becomes sadistic and wild with his crooked grin and wink-wink jokes.
The makeup artist’s craft and his own input make Giamatti’s villain a slimy conniver with a greasy pallor and a bare patch on the back of his head. He is (surprisingly) one to be reckoned with.
Owen, though not new to the rugged, rebel character, pulls it off in “Shoot ‘Em Up” just as sharply as ever. He brings humor to the table, which is something he hasn’t done since his cameo in “The Pink Panther.” His dry delivery of the one-liners is irresistible. The blaze, uninterested glances he gives the camera in moments of immense crisis is delightful. Owen is truly building a character for himself, one that transcends from film to film and keeps his style familiar to the audience.
“Shoot ‘Em Up” is an entertaining hour-and-a-half of action, wit and great performances from Oscar-nominated actors. But the whole basis of the film and what it’s parodying has all been done before. This kind of film doesn’t feel fresh anymore.
At least with “Grindhouse,” audiences saw two movies for the price of one.This joke is going to get old real soon, and although it’s on par with “Grindhouse” and “Hot Fuzz,” it immediately loses points for being released afterward.
Being that it’s the third release this year of the same nature, it just feels like a second-hand joke.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.