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A Very Different Point Of View On That SHOOT ‘EM UP Screening!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. See, I knew this film wasn’t going to play for everyone. And I’m not even accusing this guy of “not getting it.” I just know that SHOOT ‘EM UP is a wild, stylized script, and if Michael Davis pulls off the film he wrote, it won’t be for everyone. Something this extreme and specific never is. My guess is there will be many of you who react the same way he did, and I learned just as much about the film from his response as I did from the good ones we had earlier:

What's up kids? I, too, attended the test screening of "Shoot Em Up" this week in Pasadena. I wasn't going to write in about it since the film is clearly not finished, but after reading some of those raves I need to try and temper people's expectations, as I was disappointed with the movie. I'll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible. I don't think the final cut of the movie is going to be much different from what we saw in the screening. The music and effects weren't complete, but I don't see them making significant changes, though you never know what the damn MPAA will try and have them cut out. I'm a huge fan of Clive Owen. However, I'm getting tired of him playing this distant, mostly emotionless, smartass type of character. You know, the type of guy who always has something clever to say, except Clive always delivers it in his trademark British drawl. It worked in Sin City, it worked in Inside Man, it worked in Closer (where he did show emotion), but it's at the point now where it's time for him to seek a different type of character, and fast. Does he have some great lines in this movie? Yeah, but most of them occur during some absurd action scenes and most of them aren't earned. It feels like what it is, a guy trying to write cool dialogue during action scenes. I hardly ever laughed at his one-liners to the bad guys, because I wasn't impressed with how the action scenes unfolded and thus didn't care what he said to these guys before (or after) he killed them. When I saw Paul Giamatti was going to play a villain like this, I was really excited. As it turns out, very few of his scenes are that memorable, and not even someone with his considerable talent was able to do much with the role, which tells you a lot. I was expecting Alan Ford in "Snatch" type coolness and I did not get it. He's also got a running gag of cell phone conversations with his wife running throughout the movie that just doesn't work and isn't funny. In the end, I'm just not sure I believed him as a crime boss. He does some gross stuff, but he's never really intimidating, and he's sure as hell a terrible shot. He's no more adept with a gun in the movie than his platoon of random goons, which becomes very annoying and tired given the amount of times Clive Owen is shot at. Then there's Monica "I Love Nudity" Bellucci. We do get the obligatory nudity from her, which I guess is nice. She's still a beautiful woman, no doubt. However, her performance is the worst I've seen from her yet. Maybe it was because I couldn't understand what the fuck she was saying most of the time. I just don't think she can pull off a role where she has to speak a lot of English. Her accent is too damn thick. She was good in the Matrix sequels because she didn't have to do much besides sit there and look hot. Here, she has to speak a lot, and you shouldn't have to pay attention this hard to understand dialogue. Almost all of the other supporting actors were fair to poor. There is no development of any of Giamatti's goons, even the ones that are with him through the whole movie. They aren't funny, they don't get any good lines, and they sure as hell aren't believable as tough guys. It was pretty clear that after Owen, Giamatti, and Bellucci, the casting budget on this movie dried up. By the way, as you watch the film, you very quickly become annoyed with the baby-in-distress' persistent crying. It drove me nuts. It was crying during the action scenes and even during the dialogue scene where Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci were trying to have a conversation, and it was painfully loud at times. A note to the filmmakers; either cut some of the crying or turn down the damn volume on the soundtrack. On top of that, the stunt baby prop looks unbelievably fake in most of the scenes. And we'll ignore the fact that no newborn child would survive most of the stunts that it has to endure in this movie. You'll see what I mean. The plot is dumb and the story nonexistent. I didn't care about the whole reason the baby was in danger, and when you do finally find out what the reason won't be impressed and you certainly won't become one iota more involved with the story. Mindless action with no story is just mindless action. I am an action movie fan. I am a fan of rated-R action. I understand that the movie is going for over-the-top action, but if it's possible, some of action here is beyond over-the-top. A lot of it is too ridiculous to be called "cool". Some of it is borderline parody. Aside from that, the movie suffers from the plague taking over all action movies these days where everything is shot in these ridiculous closeups and you can't tell what the hell is going on. There's no sense of geography. You see a gun going off and then the thug doubles over dead. There's no perspective. We've all seen random goons getting owned, but this is just ridiculous. These guys are worse than first person shooting game bots with the difficulty set on Too Easy To Be Considered Fun. And you've never seen this many nameless goons, either. Giamatti makes a phone call and suddenly there's 50 guys there. Where is this random thug factory? Like I said, it becomes parody. My point is the action hardly ever seems to advance the story, and cool action is made much less cool when there are no consequences for the people involved. You won't believe Clive Owen is in danger for an instant until the last 10 minutes or so, and even then, it's clear he ain't gonna die. There are some funny site gags and some cool action moments, but they're almost completely drowned out by the absurdity of the rest of the action scenes. People keep talking about this gunfight while they're having sex, but it really isn't that impressive. He rolls around with her while shooting a bunch of hapless thugs. Wowee. You may not have seen it before, but the action is not that good that it's gonna become some classic scene. One thing's for sure, though, the movie lives up to its title. Lots of people get shot up. It just felt like a video game instead of a film. New Line exec Toby Emmerich was sitting in the row behind mine, and the writer/director was sitting in the row behind him. After the screening I saw them both in the lobby. I wanted to go up to Emmerich and say, "Good luck with this one." because this movie is not going to be a success in theaters. There's just no way. I didn't say anything though, because I think New Line is one of the few ballsy studios in town and I respect the fact they were even willing to get involved with a movie like this. That said, they might have been able to choose some more worthy ballsy projects. Before anyone says anything, I completely "get" what this movie was trying to be. I just think it failed, and it did so by overreaching. It went over the edge in its attempts to be aware of its own over-the-topness. The Rated-R action movie will eventually make a comeback. That comeback just won't be spawned by "Shoot Em Up". And in response to one of your other reviewers, Shane Black, John Woo, and whoever else you mentioned have nothing to fear from this movie. -M.G. Donovan, Esq.
Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 7, 2006, 7:23 a.m. CST

    Persistent baby crying during the movie? Yeesh.

    by Lance Rock

    Nice review.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 7:33 a.m. CST

    Thick accent

    by Spandau Belly

    Is there no ESL for actresses? Maybe Monica Bellucci, Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek could carpool there together.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 7:48 a.m. CST

    I still think this sounds good

    by abiggerboat

    I just love Mr. Owen

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 8:23 a.m. CST

    I don't trust this fucking guy.

    by MattCG

    He sounds like a stuck up cunt.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Clive Owen is a Hack

    by jimmy_009

    I've been saying it for over two years. He can't act. Why anyone ever wanted this stiff as James Bond is beyond me.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 10:41 a.m. CST

    You mention Woo, have you SEEN any of his pre-US films?

    by BitterMan23

    Directing prowess aside, its the same thing. Bad guys are unlimited, the hero rarely misses while the bad guys rarely hit... its part of the fun. Thats like dismissing a horror movie for someone going upstairs to see what made a noise.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Humphrey Bogart?

    by georges garvaren

    Clive is not. But you can’t kill a guy for trying. And really, its not Clive who is trying, it’s the writers who have forced him into an ever-strengthening pigeonholed that might never let up. And that’s fine, no real harm done. It’s fun to watch Owen pull this shit off nearly every single time (and this guy has done over twenty-six performances in just under six years). So a stinker is bound to arrive every once-and-a-while, but I still believe that this movie can be enjoyed on the same level that allowed me to enjoy “Beat the Devil”. Or “Sin City” for that matter.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Thank you

    by 46and2

    Exactly what I said when I reviewed it in September. This film is not good.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Hey reviewer.

    by Catnip_Thieves

    I'm sure Toby Emmerich is now reeling from your decision not to tell him that he'll need luck selling a movie populated with guns, boobs and violence to the great unwashed. I'm sure the moment when your feet are well and truly under the table marked "Creative Hollywood Power Player" are but minutes away.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Honeslty why is this getting such good press

    by Lovecraftfan

    It sounds freakin idiotic. You want a good rated R action comedy it's called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and it actually has a plot and characters and stuff this film obviously doesn't have. I'm amazed that people are going gaga over what sounds like superficial mindless action.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Crying baby/baby in danger = Me Not See Movie

    by ScienceMan

    As a new parent with a baby who is lucky to see one movie in the theater every two months or so, the last movie I want to see is one in which (a) an infant is constantly portrayed in mortal physical danger and (b) an infant is constantly heard crying. I love over-the-top action. Too bad.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 3:05 p.m. CST

    “Beat the Devil” is really cool

    by Killah_Mate

    I realize that pretty much gave away my age. Ah well, I still think it's cool.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 3:49 p.m. CST


    by Clarence Worely

    You fuckers are never satisfied. If the reviewer liked the film he is obviously a studio plant, if he doesn't he's a stuck up cunt. Bitter fuckin' bitches.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 4:30 p.m. CST

    From the director of BEANSTALK and MONSTER MAN.

    by team america

    That should tell you all you need to know.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 8:06 p.m. CST

    Crank Vs. Shoot em up

    by #1 Zero

    In a previous review of this film, a viewer said that it was better than Crank becuase you cared about Clive Owen's character as opposed to Crank where you only cared about Jason Statham because he was Jason Statham. Crank was good because it wasn't pretensious. It didn't try to have a dramatic position. This apparently reaches for the dramatic amongst the same over the top action style of Crank. In other words this movie may be trying to do two things (action/drmatic relevance) too hard and we may get something that doesn't succeed on either level. Crank was mindless comic book style fun, this appears to have that but what tone will it ultimately go for. I don't like it when movies don't know what they want to be: comedy/action or comedy/drama where neither are pulled off or you don't know where to stake your interest. Plus the descriptions of close ups of faces and guns does sound bad. One guy said Woo did the same thing with his Hong Kong films but you had a large scope to view Woo's action pieces. The first ten minutes and Hospital scene of Hard Boiled come to mind. There were some close up action sequences in "The last boy scout" where I didn't know what was going on and this sounds like that.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 9:17 p.m. CST

    This sounds the most trustworthy review so far

    by Bazka Berzerker

    ...Because his descriptions of the film go straight hand in hand with the excerpts I've read from the script, the animated storyboard I've seen, and the promotional footage trailer that was in the internet.

  • Nov. 7, 2006, 10:56 p.m. CST

    The way he described-- SOUNDS GREAT!!!

    by Bob Cryptonight

    This review makes me want to see the movie! It's obvious this fellow didn't get it. I wonder if he could feel a breeze when it all went over his head...?

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 2:56 a.m. CST

    I don't know about the movie

    by bender7

    But Clive Owen rocks. He's the only 'A List' actor I would actually bother seeing a movie for. Plus he was great in Children of Men

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 2:56 a.m. CST

    American audiences and accents

    by half vader

    I went into this movie bookshop on Hollywood the other month and the guy couldn't understand what the fuck I was saying (no-one else had any trouble) - my accent is pretty damn neutral for an Aussie. He thought I was from Germany because I wasn't articulating my 'r's! Hasn't the fuckwit ever been to Boston? Or Jersey for that matter? Don't worry I'm not tarring everyone with the same brush but for fuck's sake some people need to get out more. To finish, I can listen and lok at Bellucci, Cruz and Hayek for days. And babies' incessant crying is bad enough when it's in the audience. Bloody ushers these days, what are they good for? Absolutely nothin' (say it again).