Writer/director Michael Davis’ apoplectic “Shoot ‘Em Up” plays better at home than it did in theaters. Perhaps its over-the-topness is just easier to swallow on the smaller screen, where you’re more in tune with cartoony shenanigans.
Clive Owen is a Good Samaritan who saves a newborn baby from a sniveling Paul Giamatti and his trigger-happy goons. Helping Owen’s reluctant hero is a conveniently lactating hooker (Monica Bellucci).
Story is secondary in the string of set pieces, stuffed with enough visual gags and stupid riddles that it lies on its plane of reality. Its action sequences “ comprising at least a good half of the 85 or so minutes of running time “ play like “Transporter 2″ as sponsored by Monster Energy drinks. They’re enthralling, but also funny.
Yet humor dilutes their desire to be taken seriously, and a film cannot simultaneously be the real deal and poke fun at such, both of which “Shoot ‘Em Up” wants to do. Without Owen, it would collapse. He brings likability and credibility to his one-note role as tour guide to this speedy ride.
Sitting atop the heap of the DVD’s bonus features are Davis’ original animatics, frames of which I saw online before anyone had signed on to this project, and got me excited about its possibilities. His parody aim was evident from the start, particularly in his discarded opening credits ideas.
For its sheer zaniness and ballsiness, “Shoot ‘Em Up” has to seen to be disbelieved.