A silly lurid actioner that gets cranked up on its own visceral giddiness, Shoot 'Em Up is hard-boiled unpretentious fun.
Starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci, Michael Davis's amusingly broad, swift enterprise has Owen's mysterious Smith eating a carrot at a bus stop as vicious henchmen track down a very pregnant woman. That vegetable proves to be the appropriate weapon at hand.
The likeable, brooding fellow works the woman's delivery in a grabbing, violent sequence. Smith and the baby (the mother doesn't survive the birth) end up being on the hit list of assassins led by the hissable, scowling Hertz (a decent cast against type by Giamatti). Part of jokey nature of this over-the-top escapade has him interrupted by calls from a nagging wife.
The script by Davis, in his first theatrical venture, has Smith trying to understand why Hertz is fixed on eradicating the infant. It works in an unscrupulous high-profiled politcal figure and unfolds in sardonic and ironic fashion as the outrageousness is supplemented with wry lines for the main characters to deliver.
Lenser Peter Pau accentuates the fast-paced choreographed adrenaline-charged moments, even in free-fall or intimacy. Owen and Giamatti have a ball, with former brooding his way into 007 territory while the latter (with receding hair line and glasses) morphing a geek into an testosterone take charge boss. Bellucci, remember from the likes of Malena and The Matrix Reloaded is the luminous, caring prostitute DQ who understands her less upfront place among the mayhem.
Denise Cronenberg, sister of director David, helps to chicly outfit the appealing headliners who go about their business in ways that hardly make it convoluted at all. Shoot 'Em Up even has gun control on its mind, but this unsubtle, cartoonish satire cuts to the chase armed with many a shootout.