Shoot ’Em Up
(Alliance, 2007) D: Michael Davis, w/ Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
In addition to recounting his nervousness at jumping from million-dollar indie comedies (Monster Man) to a $40 million studio actioner, writer-director Michael Davis tells us in his commentary exactly what simple ideas gave birth to this movie and how he used them to concoct one of the most thrilling and funny actioners to come along in ages.
First, he wanted to depict every kind of gunfight possible. He achieved that. The body count is well over 100, thanks to liberal use of the ultimate up-to-date firearms. Second, he wanted to indulge his love of getting his hero out of impossible situations. That led to some highly creative action set pieces, many involving a carrot.
Clive Owen, as the no-backstory tough guy saddled with a baby, revels in the absurdity with an amped-up deadpan performance. Paul Giamatti matches him as the hyper-smart heavy whose attempts to kill the baby keep getting derailed by phone calls from his wife.
The baby, Davis says, comes straight out of the scene with Chow Yun-Fat and the baby in John Woo’s 1992 action classic Hard Boiled. Davis’s brilliance lies in making the baby the villain’s target. He explains: if you’ve got something, use it. That same economy of thought makes guns central to the plot as well as the action, which turns the movie into an effective anti-gun statement even as it delivers its biggest bangs.
EXTRAS Director commentary, making-of doc, animatics, deleted scenes. Widescreen. English, French audio and subtitles.