Awfully Good: Shoot ‘Em Up

While John Wick lights up theaters for a second time, we look back at an action movie that definitely deserved a sequel…


Shoot 'Em Up (2007)


Director: Michael Davis
Stars: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci

Adventures in babysitting. With guns. Lots of guns.

Like every adolescent who discovers the cinema of John Woo, I spent countless hours of my youth dreaming up my own crazy double-handed gunfights and choreographed Mexican standoffs. Director Michael Davis clearly did the same. SHOOT 'EM UP plays like a John Woo fever dream, where physics and reality are tossed aside in favor of looking as awesome as possible while brandishing firearms. The movie is pretty much the ending scene from HARD BOILED, where Chow Yun Fat has to shoot his way out of a hospital while carrying a baby, stretched out to feature length. Just replace Woo's balletic style and grace with swear words, booze and Motorhead.

Paul Giamatti has strong words for people who didn't like BIG FAT LIAR…

SHOOT 'EM UP is cut from the same cloth as modern Awfully Good classics like TORQUE and CRANK—unapologetically ridiculous and gleefully stupid in the best way possible. Not only is the hero able to kill literally hundreds of nameless henchmen at a time without a scratch, but he manages to get in to shootouts that grow more and more absurd. (By the end, he's in a Mexican standoff while falling out of a plane.) One could call the action and violence in the film "cartoonish," but that would be a gross understatement since SHOOT 'EM UP is pretty much an actual live-action cartoon. The film opens with the protagonist chomping on carrots like Bugs Bunny. He witnesses a man attempting to kill a pregnant woman and takes said carrot and punches it through the man's skull. If that wasn't enough to sell you on this movie, he then proceeds to engage in a gunfight with numerous bad guys while delivering a baby (and shooting off the umbilical cord) as "Breed" by Nirvana plays. This is just the first five minutes and it's probably the tamest scene in the whole movie.


If there was ever a role that should've propelled Clive Owen to massive stardom, it was this one. His Mr. Smith here is such a cool and memorable character. When he's not offing henchmen in gruesome and creative ways, Smith spends his free time making the world a better place. He sees an old man with a stupid ponytail and shoots it off. He witnesses an able-bodied asshat park his BMW in a handicapped spot and decides to steal it. And when he sees a mother hitting her child in public, he takes it upon himself to spank her to see how she likes it. It's a crowd-pleasing part and Owen owns it. The script is also full of non-stop one-liners, including some real groaners, but the actor is able to pull them off expertly and come across like a badass in the process. Not everyone can bite a carrot and say "I'm a British nanny and I'm dangerous" and not look/sound stupid.

Perhaps Paul Giamatti liked SIDEWAYS a little too much.

Paul Giamatti is equally great as the villain Hertz, who is clearly Elmer Fudd to Owen's Bugs Bunny. (He actually responds "Oh, you're a wascally wabbit" when Smith says "What's up, doc?") Like Owen, the actor is a perfect match with the hyper-real nature of the script, and it's a blast seeing the two go toe-to-toe throughout the film. And with his greasy comb over and over-the-top performance, Giamatti clearly relishes playing an outright scumbag. At one point Hertz gropes a dead woman's naked chest and then has a light bulb moment where he figures out that Smith and his baby must be looking for a lactating hooker. (You know, a natural deduction…) Said lactating hooker is played by Italian beauty Monica Bellucci, who brings not only eye candy to the movie, but some class as well. Well, as much class as you can bring to a character who blows a guy on the street to buy a bulletproof vest for a baby.

"Remember when I was second-billed to Martin Lawrence in BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE?"

The central mystery about why the bad guys want to kill the baby is pretty complicated, involving a political candidate, gun lobbyists, and an underground infant farm. However, it's all background noise for whatever insane action sequence Davis can conjure up. You can watch some of the greatest moments in the videos below, but allow me to highlight some of my favorite ridiculous moments:

  • All of the bad guys' guns have thumbprint scanners so only they can fire them. When Hertz tells Smith this, like a badass, Smith pulls a man's severed hand out of his pocket, uses it to fire the gun, and then makes a "handjob" joke.
  • Smith purposefully crashes his car in to a van full of bad guys, flying through his windshield AND their windshield unscathed so he can shoot everyone in their vehicle. He then makes a joke about seatbelts.
  • In one scene, the baby is laying alone on a merry-go-round. In order to protect it from a sniper, Smith shoots the playground equipment with such rapid accuracy that it spins at top speed and deflects all bullets. (MythBusters actually tried to re-enact this scene and sadly was unable to make it work.)
  • Like the rat from RATATOUILLE, Smith is able to shoot someone in the exact right muscles to control their body to aim and shoot someone else.
  • Smith rigs an entire warehouse with dozens of guns on strings and plays it like a deadly orchestra to kill everyone inside.
  • In what SHOOT 'EM UP considers a romantic scene, Smith slips his gun on Bellucci's finger like a ring, then drops her and the baby inside an actual army tank to keep them safe.
  • Smith jumps out of a plane and there's a gun fight as everyone falls from the sky. I'm pretty sure Davis would've taken this movie in to outer space if he had the budget.
  • Smith engages in coitus with Monica Bellucci, which is understandably so awesome that he doesn't stop when bad guys swarm their hotel, having an entire shootout while still vigorously sexing her around the room. Apparently Smith is so amazing in the sack that Bellucci doesn’t even notice what's happening around them until he's finished and makes a joke about "shooting your load."


I don't have a good caption for this picture, but I really committed to the All Giamatti screenshots this week…

Dumb as hell, but fun as hell. SHOOT 'EM UP is a bullseye.

Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti sell some groan-worthy one-liners.

Clive Owen's best and most ridiculous kills. BONUS: Some sex and some spankings!

Bellucci graces us with some brief nudity during the sex scene. Also, whatever Kraft Singles fetish this is.


Locked and loaded! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Smith takes a bite out of a carrot
  • Someone says a bad pun or a one-liner
  • Smith says "You know what I hate?"
  • Something physically impossible happens
  • Hertz talks to his wife on the phone

Double shot if:

  • Someone is killed via carrot


Thanks to Russ and Arch for suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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