Review in a Hurry: Director Michael Davis comes out of practically nowhere with this kinetic slam-bam-
thank-you-ma'am ode to all things capable of shooting—machine guns, pistols, .38 specials, Clive Owen. It's inevitable that a movie this trigger-happy shoots itself in the foot.
The Bigger Picture: Mr. Smith (Owen) is a down-and-out sort who likes to right any wrong that crosses his path, so he can't help but get involved when he runs into a pregnant woman in danger. Luckily Mr. Smith has a knack for both midwifery and sharpshooting, and before he knows it, he and the newborn are on the run from the evil Hertz (Paul Giamatti). Helping him out is comely prostitute Monica Bellucci, and between her and Owen, there's enough eye candy for everybody.
Director Davis (a former storyboard artist with a few independents under his belt) goes nuts with the action; there's so much you'll need a tranquilizer by the closing credits. Anyone can load up on a bunch of squibs or launch a camera down a dolly, but Davis has an innovative approach, reinventing the gunfight with each new sequence, using unique props and settings to his advantage.
The operatic violence is weaved into a ludicrous plot explaining why Hertz wants to kill the wee one (a plot way too complicated for a movie called Shoot 'Em Up). Bellucci and Owen are saddled with expository dialogue and stupid one-liners that, with lesser actors, would be unbearable. It's clear Davis wants to go campy with his B-movie asides, but they come off as so much moldy cheese. He's clearly never met a cliché he didn't like, and that takes the edge off what could have been a very hip flick.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Davis has an incredible eye for clean but dynamic gunfights and chases. Bellucci and Owen may be easy on the eyes, but the beautifully choreographed action sequences are just as gorgeous.