'Shoot': Don't Bite the Bullet

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Shoot 'Em Up" is set in that modern hell where stories go to die: the pop gunk hole of movies, video games and graphic novels. It has no relation to life on Earth, Mars or Alpha Centauri.

Directed after a style that might be called I-read-too-many-comics-and-now-don't-know-what's-real by Michael Davis (see In Focus on Page 32), it stars Clive Owen (he has been better) as a freelance gunman who saves a baby from an assassination squad of black-leather-coat-wearing (warning: Don't buy a black leather coat or Owen will come and kill you) thugs led by Paul Giamatti (he also has been better). On the run with the baby, the gunman teams with lactating prostitute Monica Bellucci (she has been much better) to try to -- well, what? Get away? Who can tell?

It's just gunfights strung together, without a whisper of coherence or meaning. The fights are staged so that they all look the same, and the principle is always the same: The gunman's multiple antagonists never hit, and he never misses. John Woo at least had fun with this sort of thing 20 years ago. And Giamatti? What the heck is he doing here?

-- Stephen Hunter

Shoot 'Em Up R, 87 minutes Contains violence, profanity and sexual content. Area theaters.

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