Published at: Sept. 9, 2007, 9:27 p.m. CST by Moriarty
Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.
Perhaps the single most important piece of film criticism we’ll publish this month. You don’t have to like me or Harry in any way to love Vern. He’s always been one of the most distinct voices we publish here, and there are certain films where I look forward to his opinion in particular.
I know a lot of you wanted to read a HALLOWEEN review from him, and he’s published one at his fantastic world-famous blog now. But I think it’s more important to be able to present his review of the film by Michael Davis that we’ve been talking about for a while now. Vern’s a stubborn, passionate fan of action films, and I knew that he’d approach this movie wide open to it. Seems like he really got it, too, enjoying it for any number of reasons and on several levels. This was a great read, Vern. Thanks for always raising the bar with each review.
SHOOT 'EM UP
We all know HARDBOILED is one of the greatest action movies of all time. This has been discussed, voted and agreed upon officially. But for all the time dedicated to honoring that movie, not much has been set aside for the HARDBOILED poster. Remember the first time you saw that, before you saw the movie? What more did you need to see? That simple, perfect, iconic image of Chow Yun Fat (whether you knew who he was then or not) holding a gun in one hand and a baby in the other - that should've been enough. It doesn't tell you everything about HARDBOILED, but it tells you alot. The theory of badass juxtaposition at its most basic symbolic level - one man holding life and death. Good and evil. Innocence and violence. Machine and flesh. Yin and yang.
More importantly, the guy is holding a baby in one hand and a gun in the other. Forget what it means. Concentrate on what it is.
Well, that's also what SHOOT 'EM UP is. An entire movie based on the feelings you get looking at that poster. This one has Clive Owen instead of Chow Yun Fat (a worthy successor) and it's a different baby (they tried to get the HARDBOILED baby but he wanted too much money). The movie has obvious references to Leone and Looney Tunes, and lots of bad puns like a Schwarzenegger movie, its influences are all over the place. But clearly the main one is John Woo, and specifically HARDBOILED. If director Michael Davis (writer of PREHYSTERIA 3) was a baby, John Woo would be carrying him during the shootout. But since he's only a baby he doesn't know what the fuck is going on. So the movie is John Woo not in substance or even in style, but in the simple fact that it's a whole movie about a bad motherfucker carrying a baby while running around, shooting hundreds of people, sliding, swinging, rolling, dropping, flying, falling, catapulting, and, you know, carrying on. While shooting.
The movie is not a masterpiece. I say that only because I believe a movie like this COULD be a masterpiece. This one is not because the editing is too quick, the camera is generally too close to the action, the music is mostly cheesy, some of the oneliners are corny but not a good enough kind of corny, some of the running gags run too many times, some of the exposition of the deliberately convoluted storyline gets a little more clunky than is acceptable. In other words, this PREHYSTERIA 3 guy is no master yet. But the movie is a hell of alot of fun, I would be an asshole to dismiss it based on those flaws. I really enjoyed this movie.
Although it's way more of a comedy and it's about ten times sillier, the movie SHOOT 'EM UP most reminded me of was TRANSPORTER 2. Because it's action packed, it's completely ridiculous, it wipes boogers on all matters of logic and science, it is not serious but pretends to be, and it's less than 90 minutes so it gets in there, gets the job done and then hauls ass out the back door before you can say thank you. And leaves its empty beer bottles in your living room. But this one leaves more beer bottles than TRANSPORTER 2 does if the beer bottles are a metaphor for memorable gimmicks and acts of over-the-top violence. Which they are.
In case this is somehow the first you've heard of SHOOT 'EM UP, I should probaly mention what it's about. So I will describe the opening, which is a classic. Our nameless hero sits on a bus stop bench eating a carrot. Suddenly a pregnant woman runs by, clutching her stomach as if going into labor. He glances over, mildly curious at best. Then a car tears around the corner and crashes, its driver yelling that he's going to kill her. He gets out, runs after her, asks our carrot-eater what the fuck he's looking at. Before the guy turns the corner he pulls out a gun.
And Clive has to think about it for a little bit before he admits to himself that he should try to help her. And then he says, "Fuck." The definition of a reluctant hero.
Of course he turns out to have black ops training, skills inherited from his father, a meaningful traumatic incident in his past, and every other cliche you would want him to have. (If I were you I would see the movie without reading on, because I'm gonna spoil just a couple of the gags. There are plenty to go around, but still.) So in this opening he winds up shooting an army of killers while simultaneously delivering the baby. And then he shoots off the umbilical cord. Can you believe that? At that point I was sold on the movie, and fortunately I did not find that I had bought a lemon. The movie delivers on the opening scene's promise.
Gorgeous frenchwoman Monica Belluci plays the female lead (a lactating hooker, of course) and Academy Award loser Paul Giamatti gets to be the lead hitman. I bet he hasn't fired that many guns in all of his previous movies combined times ten. Including THE HAWK IS DYING and the one where Frankie Muniz paints him blue.
Belluci and Giamatti are enjoyable, but the movie is almost entirely fueled by two things: Clive Owen's grimacing, angry presence (alot like his character in SIN CITY, except with his real accent) and a constant barrage of preposterous action ideas and jokes. Again, I hate to give anything away at all but I will give you just three examples in case you're not sold.
1. He's hiding in a public restroom with the baby. But he's trying to take a bite out of his carrot and he drops his piece in the toilet. So, while a gunman approaches, he leaves the baby on the floor and uses the diaper changing station to take his gun apart and clean it piece by piece.
(There are many classic restroom fights in cinema, and I am still hoping to see one where the hero washes his hands afterwards. I thought this might finally be the one but no dice.)
2. In a gun factory he duct-tapes guns to various shelves and sets up a complex system of strings and pulleys which he uses like marionettes to take out a platoon of henchmen.
3. Remember in DIE HARD Bruce had no shoes on, then in LAST MAN STANDING he tried to up the ante by getting attacked while having sex with Judd Apatow's wife and having to shoot a bunch of guys while still naked. Well, Clive raises the bet by being involved in a shootout WHILE STILL PENETRATING Monica. And in fact he choreographs his movements and perhaps even the vibrations of his gun shots for maximum sexual performance. We can only pray this scene does not inspire people the way Marlon Brando's butter did. Maybe the movie should have a disclaimer like cigarettes or JACKASS.
Now imagine dozens more gimmicks like those crammed into an 80-some minute lighthearted but bloody-as-all-get-out movie. It's full of all kinds of shit like that. The only thing that would be better would be if it was not actually meant to be funny. It is trying to be funny, but oh well. It achieves its goal.
I gotta be honest, I will be disappointed if this does not become a series. Like I said the director is not a master, but I'd like to see what he'd do with a little more money and an established universe and audience. I think it will happen, because I think it's gonna be a real sleeper. Of course, I'm terrible at judging those kinds of things, and I do know alot of people would say it was "stoopid." But the particular audience I saw it with laughed all throughout and applauded at about 3 or 4 different points, all well-earned. If you love guns, or if you are like Clive's character and you hate guns, then this is the movie for you.
HALLOWEEN remake review is up at the ol' geocities.also I got a book still.
Until Vern compared it to Transporter 2. I enjoyed Transporter 1 a lot, and when I saw the previews for Transporter 2 I made sure to catch it opening weekend. Sadly, the fight with the fire hose was the closest they got to being as cool as the first one - and I saw that in the preview. When he's swinging around on the beaded curtain in the end fighting that blonde chick? Yeah, that was the nail in the coffin for me. At least Crank had Amy Smart getting bent over in front of a bus full of Japanese girls...
Meaning: if you start with a completely over-the-top premise, then you damn well better follow through by making a completely over-the-top movie. Also meaning: no more bait and switch. I hope this flick pulls it off, and by pretty much all accounts, it's sounding like it did.
At the end. The part about helping the yuppies.
I've finally come around. Vern's the best writer going around here
This comes after reading McWeeney's review of the Moon flick, where I had the ghost of the first paragraph in my head as I clicked the link the same way you kinda hear the upcoming song before it kicks in on a CD you've listened to 1000 times, and then reading that Vern bit.<p>
Time to admit the obvious.
Even for a movie like this, there is no way that Monica Belucci is pregnant at the start of the movie and is then getting "penetrated" by Clive Owen later on unless AT LEAST three months have passed. Or she had a caesarian. I know - I checked with my wife.
I really thought this was gonna be SOAP all over again. But I trust Vern and feel fully primed by this review to enjoy the movie.<p>Now will Vern's Special Ability make Clive Owen appear on these very boards? Better get some questions ready just in case...
The most obvious one has already been pointed out - Monica Belucci is Italian, not French. Yeah she's been in a few French movies but that's no excuse. Secondly...how can you possibly tell us this film is like Hard-Boiled, a truly great action film...and then say that it's most like The Transporter 2, a pile of CACK?!? I am so NOT there.
I hate these people who are friends with Harry and got a job ranting about a movie before it comes out, but they cant make a decent review to save their life. They say they hate, then they say they like, then they dispise it, then its brillant and hope they make more and cant wait to see it again and more psycho babble that makes no sense.
PLAIN AND SIMPLE... you either like it or you dont, stop being wishy washy or as our so called elustrious leader has stammered on about... a FLIP FLOPPER.
I think Verns old job was writing manuals for Sauder furniture, cause his reviews and those instructions are both confusing and fucked up.
"There are many classic restroom fights in cinema, and I am still hoping to see one where the hero washes his hands afterwards. I thought this might finally be the one but no dice."
<p>?Hey Vern, are you forgetting the opening sequence of CASINO ROYALE? </p>
<p>Bond washes his hands after beating the crap out of that guy in the restroom.</p>
also, i wanted this movie when i was 19, now.. it'll be like the matrix, mouthbreathers and hicks will love it, so it won't be as exclusive.
may get the dvd, but will prefer itto ogami and son's adventures.
Okay sorry about Belluci, that was just stupid. I shoulda said HONORARY Frenchwoman. I first knew her from French movies so I thought she was French, but she even speaks Italian in this one. Inexcusable.<p>
CASINO ROYALE huh? That one didn't even occur to me because he washes his hands in a Lady Macbeth type of way not as an action joke about hygiene. But you're right, that fits.<p>
PlasmOrb, I don't want to be a jerk or anything, but your post indicates that you are a god damn idiot. I am not gonna come on here and say "I liked it!" or "I didn't like it!" I am gonna write a review. You have horrible taste in reviews. You are asking for stupid, phony reviews by and for idiots. I am not your guy. Go away. And if you read that and couldn't figure out if I liked it or not, you didn't read it. Which you didn't, because what you wrote there doesn't match what I wrote at all. I still love you though. I am gonna train you up, teach you a few things and ultimately redeem you as a human being. You will even love and understand movies by the time I'm done with you. It's gonna take 25 years but it's gonna be worth it. Mark it on your calendar.<p>
As for TRANSPORTER 2 and HARDBOILED. SHOOT 'EM UP is not like HARDBOILED in style or especially substance, I not only made that clear but specifically stated that. It is inspired by John Woo in its premise and over-the-top action. But like I said it's more like the poster than the movie. The tone is closer to an even more cartoony TRANSPORTER 2, but even if you hated that one I think you could like this one, I think its goofiness will be more widely accepted.
Are always great. But what's best is checking out the talkback list, waiting for that black box to make an appearance - and then YES! He's responded. I can't think of any other reviewer where I love reading his to and fro s much as the original text.
This looks like a blast. It really is cartoony, gleefully over-the-top in its homages to action movies. I haven't seen Transporter 2, I heard it was terrible, but Shoot 'Em Up seems to be intentionally absurd, whereas, from what I've heard, Transporter 2 was over-the-top but took itself seriously. But, like I said, I haven't seen it, so I can't say for sure, that's just what I gather from what others have told me.
Really. btw another great review fromVern, and his beer bottle line is hilarious. "And leaves its empty beer bottles in your living room. But this one leaves more beer bottles than TRANSPORTER 2 does if the beer bottles are a metaphor for memorable gimmicks and acts of over-the-top violence. Which they are."
"Just give it up. Alot is so frequently used it has all but officially become correct usage, much like how they made "irregardless" a correct usage after hundreds of millions used it!"
<br><br>Just because a lot of people spell it that way (because they don't know any better) does NOT make it right. I'm sorry, but I don't subscribe to the theory that if everybody does something it must be right. There IS a right spelling for "a lot" and it's as two words, no one!
"(There are many classic restroom fights in cinema, and I am still hoping to see one where the hero washes his hands afterwards. I thought this might finally be the one but no dice.)"<p>
I'm disappointed that paul giamatti didn't play well with you. he really looks like he's having fun with his role in the previews. oh well. will see when I see.
Crank is way overlooked and did this same stuff before Shoot Em Up. I hate the Transporter, but Crank was on the money for what it wanted to be.
When I saw this trailer in the theatre people laughed like they wouldn't care to even see it on DVD. Be warned, it's a flop.
Yep, when The Big Hit came out people were jocked it for its Woo-ian tendencies. Now, nobody fucking remembers it, not even Walberg. Same thing will happen with this. But I guess it's better than Halloween, right guys? Not.
Crank was a complete let-down. It's premise was great, but it didn't live up to the promise of non-stop action. Crank had no action. There was a lame shoot-out at the end...and that was it. NO ACTION.
Hopefully this is better. I couldn't make it through Transporter, but oddly enough, I've been able to sit through Transporter 2. Guess I'll watch anything in HD.
Regarding "alot". Who cares how it's used? Also, who cares that irregardless has now become an official word. If enough people use a word, it becomes lexicon. Where do you think words come from? They've all been created by man at some point. Get over this idea that there has been some Master language from the dawn of time that have never had a word added.
I can see the comparison, but I really kind of hated CRANK while I liked this one. The biggest similarity is that they both have heroes who do impossible things while CGI freefalling at the end. But they have a very different style and a different tone for over-the-top action. This is more of a cartoon and although sometimes ridiculously violent its cruelty always seems like a joke, lighthearted, not serious in any way. I think the supposed "fun" of CRANK was a little tainted when he raped his girlfriend (played for laughs) and didn't he cause a random Arab to get lynched by calling him al Quaeda? (I think I dozed off but somebody told me that happened in the movie.)<p>
More importantly though the style of the two movies is completely different. Like I said, SHOOT 'EM UP does have some of the modern action weaknesses that I hate - too many quick edits and the camera is too close. But compared to CRANK those aspects are very tame, there's none of the Avid farts and random jerkoff CGI whooshes and all that kind of hyperactive bullshit. To me it's much more involving and easier to follow. The action is not literally non-stop but it's pretty close. They stop to talk and zip through a basic mystery (which they solve with minimal concentration or effort) but for me it never seemed to lag.<p>
I seem to have turned alot of people off by mentioning TRANSPORTER 2. Fair enough. I really disliked the first TRANSPORTER but the second one was so quick and absurd I kind of loved it. Anybody who watches Statham flip his car and successfully detach a bomb from the undercarriage by hooking it on a crane and then thinks the movie is meant to be serious is not living in the same world I am. I was in tears laughing at that part and rewound it about 4 or 5 times. But that's also what I liked about it, that they do pretend that it is a serious movie. SHOOT 'EM UP keeps a straight face but not as convincing of one. It's also more rewardingly ridiculous than TRANSPORTER 2 so I think it will be more popular. Also, ladies love Clive Owen.
I don't think the movie is anti-gun. They do bring gun manufacturers and gun control advocates into the plot, but there is nothing in this movie that seems meant to be taken seriously. Owen's character claims to be against guns due to a past incident but he has a funny way of showing it. I think his stance is about as serious as Antonio Banderas throwing away his guitar case of guns at the end of DESPERADO. (Then picking it up "just in case".)<p>
At worst, the so-called anti-gun elements might be an attempt to be more self conscious about gun violence than the violent movies of the '70s and '80s were. But I think it's more likely just a matter that when you do a movie all about guns and call it SHOOT 'EM UP it's natural to work gun control into the plot.
Squibs. When someone gets shot blood should come out. It adds a gritty feel and separates it from run-of-the-mill- TV violence. How's the squib work in this movie Vern? Or is it digital blood (which I'm not a fan of)? Or none/all of the above?
...if you don't GET (and also haven't NOTICED) that Vern spells things his own way, MAKES UP words, and even states facts wrong ON PURPOSE! Try and keep up (and while you're at it, buy his book and visit his website). Remember: Vern is a guy who has spent most of his life in and out of prison, and now that he has cleaned up his act, he is dedicated to writing about and reviewing "the Films of cinema." Class dismissed.
...was a piece of shit. But Transporter 2 (with a different director) was markedly superior. Anyone who can't recognize the difference shouldn't be talking about movies. God knows I'm not arguing for masterpiece status here, but Transporter 2 was visually deft were the first one was sloppy and incompetent, silly where the other was stupid, and vigerous where the other was languid. It, along with Unleashed, (same director) was one of the better non-Hong Kong action films to emerge in recent years.
great. I might see it just for those. Beyond that, anything with Clive Owen and Lucy Liu together is like poison death - Clive is a great actor but he so often seems to make horrible career choices with dreck like this after every good film.
..is in the villain. Thats where I can see this movie topping those others is Paul Giamatti's character, which does show promise in the trailers. Because let's face it, when's the last really good villain (human/non-cgi) in an action film?
to me because of how badly they took the hook from Man on Fire and condensed it into a 15 minute period of the film. It's inclusion is out of place, random, and the action is ludicrous in a bad way. It's not fun or interesting. The stuff with the car jumping in the parking structure, the bomb been picked off by the crane, the Air Force One-esque finale, all ridiculous and not entertaining. I would compare one scene from Charlie's Angel's: Full Throttle to Transporter 2, and that's the scene with everyone flying aimlessly off the car that Demi Moore driving. Call me crazy if you want to, but that's the only time in the movie where it crosses the line into absurdity.
Stupid ? Yes. Was I entertained? Hell Yes! This was like the male version of the first Charlie's Angels movie (I didn't like the second). The people I went with did comment " I haven't seen that before " quite a few times and they liked the over the top action scenes. It flew by so fast you didn't have time to think too much and it played more like a Anime Cop show where crazy shit happens but it's normal for that world. The only bitch we had as a group was "Where the fuck did he get that robot?!?" A NEW LINE rep said this was the final edit of the movie but wanted people to stay after and comment... I didn't but overheard good buzz passing by them on the way out. Fun movie.
In the movie they are shown with Baby Poo on their face and they get shot in the head so I do not think the movie was pro gun control. Guns are used in clever ways even in the last scene to solve the heros problems, even without a gun the hero makes his own handgun in a scene David Cronenberg would be proud of lol.
..But no one gets seriously hurt? " People get fucked up and die. Guys get shot in the balls and blood sprays out ( not sure if it was CGI) Lot O' Blood. Bad guy gets 50 hit men to help him and ask if that is all and sure enough they were not enough lol Send more Hitmen!
"Perhaps the single most important piece of film criticism we’ll publish this month." Seriously? Because of..? Don't get me wrong, Vern is a good reviewer and this one's no different, but why all this hyperbole? It's just a review, nothing important is actually discussed - unlike, say, his Die Hard 4 piece, which made some very valid points about the state of Hollywood. I don't mind giving a guy due credit, and Vern is certainly a good reviewer, but you seem to treat this man like some sort of demi-God! Makes me wonder why...
I don't think it would be a travesty but it would be corny to push a serious message in this one. I guess only if they did it in a Verhoeven type of way where they pretend to be promoting guns and going way too far.<p>
And as for the SNAKES ON A PLANE thing - there is no comparison. SNAKES ON A PLANE is a failure because it doesn't even give a half assed attempt at delivering on the promise of the title. There is little fun and it is spread across the movie. It is afraid to just take off the training wheels and let loose. Like someone might be turned off if it got too crazy or absurd. SHOOT 'EM UP has none of those problems. If SNAKES ON A PLANE had been a little like SHOOT 'EM UP maybe it would've been memorable.
Most movies don't have enough of interest to sustain 90 minutes, let alone 2+ hours. I LOVE the idea of the 70 - 80 minute movie in this kind of hyper-exaggerrated mode. Giver you the goods, then knows when its time to end. Lookin forward to this 'un.
Yeah, it's the old STRAW DOGS "she actually liked it" fantasy, but still. The guy grabs his girlfriend and forcibly has sex with her while she screams no and tries to get away. What else you gonna call it?
see this piece of shit over the weekend. If for no other reason than to have you come back to this thread and demand that Vern never be allowed to post again.
Creepy, unfunny, poorly shot/written/acted. It has it all!
Except a naked Belluci.
I'm surprised people and Vern didn't like it, thought there was no action or that it was boring! There was plenty of action and tension due to the character dying throughout the film, and getting more desperate. I've seen it at the theater and a couple more times on cable. Transporter 2, I had enough after the first time. I preferred the Transporter 1, overall.
whoops. I sort of had a feeling, as the trailer produced only chuckles with the audience I saw it with (and they were laughing at, not with)<br><br>The success of Bourne and the new Bond should have indicated that folks are pretty bored with over stylized action. And, when you have a picture that promises to be nothing but, well, you have something that doesn't crack the top 5.<br><br>Actually, it did two slots better than I predicted, as I thought it would open at number 8.
I know John Woo, I've seen John Woo's movies...and this is nowhere near as good as John Woo's best. This is 90 minutes of a director jacking off with the camera, without an interesting story, character, or decent piece of dialogue to prop it up. Clive Owen passed on Casino Royale to be in this shit?! He should fire his agent.
by Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World
But the Alien vs. Predator 2 trailer is "totally sweet and bitchin" and everything you want in that kind of film? Right. I'm going to go tuck a shotgun between my knees and pull the trigger with a carrot stick to blow my head off, at least I'll go out with a sense of humor you self-absorbed, empty, hateful pricks.
I don't know how the hell Owen can look himself in the mirror after being involved in Shoot 'Em Up. My opinion of him dipped considerably following this movie.</p>
<p>I love a good old fashioned violent romp as much as the next guy, but this movie is not that. It's insipid. It's hackneyed. It's ridiculous. I wanted to like it, but after the fifteenth Death by Carrot and 27th shot my load joke, I just held my head in my hands and curled into a ball.</p>
<p>SPOILER...that shit at the end with the fireplace...give me a fucking break.END SPOILER