The film starts out with the hero “Smith” (Clive Owen) sitting on a bench at night waiting for a bus, munching on a carrot when a pregnant woman in a yellow raincoat stumbles by moaning. She disappears in a nearby alley and is being followed by a very angry man with a gun. This prompts our hero to get involved and angry, too. From that moment on it is all about shooting people.
The scenes escalate rapidly into over the top action sequences where Smith simply shoots ’em all up in all sorts of ridiculous ways and moves. It reminds you somehow of a comic but yet the violence is so graphic and real that you are constantly wondering what the hell they were thinking when shooting this nonsense. Do yourself a favor, don’t ask just watch and laugh. Don’t think about plot or plausibility or moral reservations when a woman gives birth while the hero shoots ’em up and cuts the naval cord with a bullet.
The scene right afterwards, where Smith holds the baby in his arm reminded me of “Hard Boiled“. That baby is the main target for the bad guy Hertz (Paul Giamatti) and he will stop at nothing to kill it as Smith finds out pretty soon. I liked his previous performances, e.g. in “The Illusionist” and “Sideways” to name some but here, he is just a “pussy with a gun” as Smith puts it. Although, in all fairness I have to say that Giamatti, Owen and Bellucci are good, the movie just isn’t.
This is a parody or travesty even of an action movie or as some may call it an exploitation film (although with a budget of 37 million U$ this is too expensive to qualify as exploitation movie) about guns, sex and violence. Everything is exaggerated (hence travesty) and the dialog consists mostly of “one-liners” and when Hertz says “Fuck me sideways” he may think about the dead mother (head shot right between the eyes) of the baby he has sitting on the backseat of his car, the yellow raincoat revealing one breast with a hard nipple beckoning him to rub it while she is staring at him with dead eyes and he does rub it… if this disturbs you then do not go watch this movie, you will only be offended (in more ways than you can imagine).
Do you find it funny when Smith shoots a whole team of Special Ops storming his hotel room single handedly and bare naked while he is having sex with a hooker Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci) , shooting his load? If the answer is yes then you will like this movie and all the nonsense stunts it pulls from beginning to end.
The whole movie only consists of one theme: Smith is going to shoot ’em all up. The plot? What plot? How does one rate such a trash movie full of tasteless jokes and violence? You cannot rate this unless you view it for what it really is. It is an exploitation movie and the laughs are more laughs in the line of “Oh my… what the hell were they smoking…”. I cannot share the enthusiasm of all those imdb voters who gave this movie a 10 (2097 votes, 31,8% as of today). 10 out of 10? Really? Come on!
“Shoot ‘Em up” is highly offensive, the action sequences defy all laws of logic and nature and the violence is just completely over the top. Some might say it goes too far but it does more than that, it goes even further, which is why people will hate this movie like there is no tomorrow. Others, who have seen movies like “Hard Boiled” or even more so “Ichi: The Killer“, may like this movie. If you dislike trash action/exploitation movies then steer clear of this one.