SHOOT 'EM UP is a perfect movie
This article was originally published at Birth. Movies. Death on April 19, 2017. A few months after this article was published, I hosted a screening of SHOOT 'EM UP at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park in Houston, Texas. Everybody who attended got cap guns and carrots. We had a skype interview with writer/director Michael Davis. It was a glorious night.
I am shocked, shocked I say, that SHOOT 'EM UP does not have a bigger cult following. This is a film that should have annual conventions dedicated to it – sordid affairs in derelict hotels on the edge of town where guests wear harnesses carrying fake babies and munch on carrots while waiting in line for panel discussions and cosplay competitions. There should be sexually inappropriate fanart cluttering up DeviantArt – pictures that would make the film’s stars outwardly blush but inwardly beam at how dedicated audiences are to the film. Theaters across the country should be hosting regular midnight screenings of this film - handing out cap guns for audiences members to shoot along with the film’s characters. Writer/director Michael Davis should be hounded for autographs whenever he dares leave his house. The world truly is a sad reflection of its true potential.
SHOOT 'EM UP was released to an unappreciative world on September 7, 2007 - a day that ever deserved a national holiday if there was one. Pre-SHOOT 'EM UP, the world was a dull and dreary haze – unknowing of the true lengths a movie character could go through to kill a person with a gun. By September 8, 2007, though, we knew. Oh, yes, we know.
Clive Owen stars as Smith, a drifter who finds himself caught up in a truly weird conspiracy involving corrupt politicians, a baby factory ring, a prostitute who specializes in milk fetish, and the freaking second amendment. But while that all may seem second-hat adventure for drifters, what sets this journey apart is that Owen’s character is an expert marksman and the flesh-and-blood embodiment of Bugs Bunny.
Davis, who was inspired to make SHOOT 'EM UP from his love for both John Woo films and Looney Tunes, has created a live-action cartoon – that’s not up for debate. This is a movie where a character has “Ride of the Valkyries” as his ringtone. Owen's Smith is a straight-faced, tough-as-nails Bugs Bunny. He munches on carrots (carrots improve eyesight, don't you know), delights in mischievously offing henchmen, and finds himself in outrageous over-the-top situations - such as a free-fall skydive shoot-out. If Smith is Bugs, Paul Giamatti is Elmer Fudd, a put-upon hitman who finds himself at wit's end trying to dispatch the rascally gunman who is standing between him and a paycheck.
After Smith tries (and fails) to save a pregnant woman from a hitman, he shoots a bullet through the baby's umbilical cord and whisks the infant to safety. Unfortunately, Giamatti's Hertz has been hired to steal the baby – and that baby doesn’t necessarily need to be in one piece when all is said and done. On the run, Smith enlists the help of Donna "D.Q." Quintano, a lactating prostitute played by Monica Bellucci. Yes, this is a movie that not only has a lactating prostitute character but names her after the Dairy Queen restaurant chain. Why wasn’t this movie a bigger box office hit!?!?
SHOOT 'EM UP is a movie that knows how outrageous it is and doesn't really stop to check if audiences are along with the joke. There's a scene where two characters engage in sexual congress while participating in a shoot out. There are multiple kills in which the weapon of choice is a sharpened carrot. This is a film with such an intrinsically set disregard for human life, it begins to border on the surreal. If you told me somebody watched SHOOT 'EM UP, lost the ability to connect with human life on any real level, and went postal, I’d believe you. But at least while they were in jail awaiting their just and deserved punishment, they could remember all the fun they had watching this very sick, very incredible movie.
In today’s world, change is obviously needed. We have to come together as a society to bring about progress and the further evolution of the human species. A big part of that will involve making sure SHOOT 'EM UP is a bigger deal among film fans. So write your congressmen, take to the streets in protest or – at the very least – finally get around to watching this movie if you haven’t. SHOOT 'EM UP deserves you and you deserve SHOOT 'EM UP.