I feel like I've seen this movie about ten times, yet I feel like I haven't seen it at all. Does that make any sense? Let me explain. Before anybody (general audiences) had heard of Shoot 'Em Up, a handful of journalists and I were invited over to Michael Davis' editing suite in beautiful Burbank, California. He went into his spiel about the film, and I was flabbergasted. I felt like I'd fallen asleep on a bus bench and was having a very weird dream. Seriously, how could Clive Owen, one of the classiest actors of our time, and Paul Giamatti, an indie workhorse favorite, be starring in one of the coolest B movies of all time? I blew the diatribe off as favorable rhetoric, expecting to have my expectations let down by the hoopla that was coming out of Davis' mouth.
Then he showed us the animatic that he used to sell his pitch to New Line. It was a stick figure fighting off this hail of bullets. Simply awesome. Seeing it, without seeing any of the film, I thought, "Yeah, right." There's no way they could pull something that spectacular off in real time, with real actors.
Davis' followed up this exuberant piece of pop culture bad assity with the actual, almost finished movie on a DVD. He popped it in and let us watch the first seven minutes or so. "Holy Christ!" I thought to myself, sitting there, mouth ajar. "This is the best movie with guns ever made!" From the opening frame, I knew I was watching something special. This is not an Oscar contender. This is something more than that. Something that will be on constant rotation in your Blu-Ray player for years to come. A fast moving swift kick to the gut that will be shown on bar televisions across the nation until every last peanut dish has run dry. It's a bullet ballet that deserves a spot next to Hard Boiled and Die Hard on that shelf of action classics. In a word: astounding.
I pulled back from the screen, my eyebrow raised. Did I really just have that conversation in my head? After only watching a prologue? Well, I did just see a guy get his ponytail blown off, a carrot used as a weapon, and a baby get its umbilical cord removed with a bullet. There were some really clever bits of word play. And I witnessed Paul Giamatti being a bad ass for the first time in his life; not to mention some of the best shot and choreographed action-play ever placed within in an American film.
Nah. Fuck it. This had to be a fluke. The rest of the movie was going to be a boring expose on the effect violence has on unborn babies who hear R rated movies through the womb. Right? Surely it would start to get preachy. Or someone was going to make a speech. Or the violence and action was going to let up for a good thirty minutes.
Nope, didn't happen. Davis fast forwarded through the film, and even sped-up, I could tell this thing hadn't stopped to take a breath. I wanted to knock the remote control out of his hand so I could watch it. I restrained myself. The next moment the director decided to stop on was actually was what, for this film, would be considered, a slow scene. It only moved at about 97 miles an hour, had some of the most clever character building dialogue to ever grace a straight-to-video action ripper, and showcased Monica Bellucci as a lactating hooker.
At this point, I was floored. I didn't want to see anymore until I could actually watch the thing from start to finish without any fast forwarding. That's right. This is a movie that fast forwards itself through any bit of drama you don't want to watch on repeat viewings. Heck, the title says it all: Shoot 'Em Up!
Its one of the few films that hasn't lied to me in recent years. It delivers on all accounts. I know, cause a month and a half later; I sought the film out at Comic Con. I had to see it, even though I was missing a couple of big parties and free booze for the experience. Seriously, who skips out on free booze for a movie? Not drunkard me. But this was different. This film was cinematic scotch on the rocks. I knew it would blow me a kiss in the form of a good head buzz.
Sadly, we got to the theater late. The only seats were right in front of the screen. Watching the film was like pressing your face right up against a billboard with a lot of streaking lights on it. This was after eleven cocktails. I got the gist of what was going on, but not really. I didn't even know that Giamatti had a reason for wanting the baby so bad. It was like a vertebrae shattering acid trip. Still, it seemed really awesome. The audience ate it up. They loved it. And I need to see it again right now!
So, you see, it's as if I've seen this movie twice now, at least. But I haven't really sat through it from beginning to end while completely in view of the screen and cognizant of my surroundings. As it stands, Shoot 'Em Up is one of my three favorite films of the year.
You've got to see it. I mean, seriously, you all went and saw Halloween last week. Make this number one, so we get another one. Davis is already planning a sequel. Go.
Oh, wait. Shit. 3:10 to Yuma also comes out today. This is a toughie. I've heard it's a great western. Hell, I've heard it's a great film, period. Go see both.
Or be a bitch.