Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"Shoot 'Em Up"

Directed by Michael Davis.
Written by Michael Davis.
Starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  9/10/07


I downloaded the trailer for "Shoot 'Em Up" on my Xbox 360, which has a marketplace tool that allows you to download not only games but also movies and upcoming movie trailers; after taking a glimpse at the action in the trailer, I thought that "Shoot 'Em Up" might be the R-rated period piece that would take me back to the lovely stretch in the 1980s and early 90s when the action/comedy genre was in full swing.  (Damn, I miss you, "Lethal Weapon.")

"Shoot 'Em Up" only runs for about 80 minutes, and it doesn't pack the wallop that I was hoping for, but as a candy-filled gun adventure, it isn't too bad.  Clive Owen stars as Mr. Smith, a bum in the crime-filled city of _______ who just happens to have a Past that clearly involved being very good at killing a lot of people; when the film opens, he's waiting for the bus when he intervenes on the near-killing of a pregnant woman, who delivers a baby that Smith spends the rest of the film protecting.  On his tail is Hertz (Paul Giamatti), who was trying to kill that pregnant lady when the flick opens; it's not initially clear why he's so bent on killing a newborn child, and we spend time in-between action sequences to learn why, in the "plot."

As you are watching this film, there are a couple of things that really boggle the mind as you soak this in:  first, what are three such strong actors (Owen, Giamatti and Monica Bellucci) doing in a mindless action film?  Second, did Clive Owen really turn down doing things like the latest set of Bond films to do this?  Getting past this, the action here really is quite ridiculous; between Mr. Smith buying ammo with food stamps at the local pawn shop or gunning down foes while flying back down to earth after jumping out of a plane, you are doing almost as much laughing as you are gasping at the shock value of watching guys getting impaled by carrot sticks.  It's not that this is bad, but this certainly isn't that great, either...but, it goes down so easily, you don't mind the aftereffects.

All of the actors--our three primes, plus the random supporting cast--seem to be embracing the comedic nature of "Shoot 'Em Up", and Giamatti actually works in this role after avoiding roles in action films for the majority of his run to fame over the last five years or so.  Some of the stunts are pretty cool, and at least the movie never gets bogged down by keeping the overall movie short and leaving very little space between shootouts.  But something is definitely missing here, and while I don't know quite what that is, I know that it leaves you wanting more from this film. 

Rating:  Matinee


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09