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Shoot 'Em Up a Love Letter to Action Movies

Published September 6, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema.
Shoot 'Em Up Poster Shoot 'Em Up
Shoot 'Em Up is the movie I've been waiting for my whole life. A love letter to action movies, this is the kind of outrageous fun filmmakers need to have. Michael Davis is my soul mate. He figured it out.

Movie Review: Shoot 'Em Up

It's John Woo meets Jackie Chan as Smith (Clive Owen) uses his skillful gunplay to manipulate the scene. He's got strategic kill shots and the foresight to shoot out table legs or oil cans where they might help launch him through the scene. Accompanied by fun music, rather than a pretentious score.

The action is packed with macabre humor and inventive storytelling. Problems that arise for Smith range from the scatological to the mechanical, and he figures out an ingenious solution. The one-liners put Arnold Schwarzenegger to shame, with obvious puns that the situations totally call for.

Someone is going to call it non-stop action, but they're wrong. More accurately, it is actually well paced. The in between scenes feature wonderful character moments that let the unique leads interact with the world. There are 11 action sequences, so at 90 minutes that's more action per frame than any Die Hard, Lethal Weapon or James Bond film. And with all of Smith's tricks and traps, this is action like you've never seen before.

There will be people who complain about the lack of realism. These are the same people who complain when wirework is used outside of The Matrix. Creativity should always outweigh reality in movies. That is the joy of cinema. And if people don't get it, they need to lighten up.

Not knowing where the characters come from is a delight. The simple premise is told visually. Smith sees a situation, gets involved and it unfolds. Too many movies need to explain everything, like this is how the hero got so badass and this is why the villain is messed up. Shoot 'Em Up lets you figure it out

It's almost disappointing when we learn about the villain's past jobs and the love interest's tragedy. Mere guesses at Smith's backstory almost suggest too much. The great fun of stories is figuring out how everyone got here. Really all we find out about Smith is a list of things he likes and doesn't like, and that's perfect. That's all you ever really get to know about someone anyway.

The true greatness of Shoot 'Em Up is in the details, none of which I want to spoil. It is the ultimate action movie, with the answer to all Mexican standoffs in the finale. It's the most fun you'll have at the movies for years to come.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of New Line Cinema.

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