You might have noticed that I don't write too much about American cinema. I'm not really a big fan and I'm not all that involved with American films either. Still, from time to time I like to try out some stuff, and sometimes it sticks. When I needed something short, fun and filled with action, I ran into Shoot Em Up. A very nice surprise it turned out to be.
Shoot Em Up is a rather specific action film that finds its roots in films like Crank and The Transporter. They are usually quite short, take little time to build up a story and are really, quite brilliantly, over-the-top. Pay no attention to realism or character progression, because it's simply not there. These are the Western versions of live action manga films, pure comic book action brought to the world of the breathing.
Films like Shoot Em Up are usually quite flimsy and bear little weight, but while they last they provide plenty of fun. Shoot Em Up is no exception. It takes about 2 minutes of stylized intro before the shooting starts. From there on it hardly lets off. The messy storyline just serves one purpose, leading the audience from one action scene to the next.
Visually, Shoot Em Up is consistently stylized, improving on his genre companions. From the first shots it's clear that there's no lack of visual ideas. The film is quite bleak but is smart enough to throw in some candy-colored scenes too, simply adding to the fun. Most of the film looks gorgeous, sadly one or two heavy CGi scenes mess things up a bit. First of all the CGi BMW crash was horrible, secondly the parachute jumping scene should have been cut as a whole.
Films like these can always use a good, funny, macho lead. Clive Owen in neither of those which could've easily ruined the film. Luckily, Owen's lack of charisma is saved by Giamatti, who plays the part of his life. Usually cast in bored, lifeless roles, he shines as cold-blooded perverted little freak, picking up every dried out oneliner Owen tries to chew out and turning it into a fun bit of dialog.
Another weak point is the choice of music, which gives the impression of being chosen for its coolness, but fails as most of it is cheesy 80s rock and metal. Not the kind of thing you put behind a 2007 hyper stylized action flick. They could've used something a bit more snappier and adrenaline driven, which would've helped the action scenes.
Still, the action is pretty cool and from time to time even original. There are plenty of quirky sight gags and the film remains humorous throughout. It might not take itself too seriously, but it does value it's entertainment value, which is what makes films like these a treat to watch. Not at all perfect, but immensely fun and entertaining. I wouldn't mind watching more films like these.
Make sure to catch the trailer on the Apple site.