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Shoot 'Em Up (DVD)

Starring: Clive Owen, Monica Bellucci (Persephone in the Matrix sequels), a baby, some carrots & Paul Giamatti (who'll look familiar from a million places but you'll have to Google him to be sure exactly where).

Rated: 18.

Story: Smith, an angry loner, comes to the rescue of a heavily pregnant woman who is being chased by hitmen. He finds himself steadily embroiled in a conspiracy as he attempts to save the baby from increasingly extreme assassination attempts. Luckily, he's been trained extremely well to kill with both guns and carrots.

Comments: There are a few scenes at the beginning of this film which are hugely reminiscent of Children of Men with Clive Owen protecting a baby that he's had to help deliver under difficult circumstances. This time, however, he gets guns rather than flip-flops. Lots and lots of guns.

Pretty soon, he's doing acrobatics with a newborn in one hand and a machine-gun in the other, taking out dozens of enemies at a time. It's all a little over the top until you realise that this is, in fact, the best film of a videogame ever made. One guy carving his way through a horde of inept bad guys is a scene I've played through a hundred times but it's seldom been filmed with such style. Of course, there is no actual videogame tie-in because that would just be a far too sensible media cross-over but the film apes the feel of a whole army of games that feature shoot-outs in warehouses full of crates.

Clive Owen does an excellent job as the enigmatic lead and copes surprisingly well as an action hero. The other main characters are OK but come off worse from the cheesy script. It may be that the whole thing is trying to be cheesy, though. It's hard to tell and that's the main problem with the film - it never quite finds its identity. It's too outlandish to be taken seriously but seldom funny enough to be a spoof. This is typified by the anti-gun message, which is cleverly ironic in a movie featuring a main character who only survives thanks to easy access to guns. Or maybe it's just stupid. I'm not sure.

Still, Shoot 'Em Up is a good effort with superb action sequences and a hero who spends much of the film actively involved in childcare. Hurrah!

Not so good if you don't like gun fights, though...

Conclusion: It's slightly too silly and confused to be an absolute classic but it's still one of the better action films of recent years.

Explosions: Er... Actually, now that I think about it, there may not be any. Shoot 'Em Up is all about the guns. This is where the similarity with games breaks down. One of the fundamental rules of an actual shoot 'em up is that the bad guys must build their fortifications out of explosive barrels. It's the law.
Guns: Lots and lots.
Brainless goons: More than that.
Carrot-induced fatalities: Many and varied.
Life-saving uses of a soiled nappy: One.

Rating: 4/5.

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