In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The opening scene has more kick ass action, more gloriously ridiculous stunts and gun trickery than most action movies have in their entirety. And it only gets more crazy from there.”
Recently, in my neighbourhood, I saw something that’s all too common these days. A video shop that was closing down. They had a big sign out the front, “4 movies for $10”. I looked in my wallet, saw $30 and decided I wasn’t leaving that shop until I found 12 movies I thought were worth having on my DVD shelf. Some were movies I’d seen before. Some were movies I had a vague idea about and thought would be worth the $2.50 gamble. Some were oddities I’d never even heard of, but they looked interesting enough. So, thank you, Network Video Brunswick West. I never rented anything from you or even had a membership, but I did find some cool, interesting and mysterious things on your almost empty shelves.
“Fuck you, ya fucking fuckers.”
These days, the self aware, over the top action movie is exemplified by the Fast and Furious series. They make billions of dollars and have bridged a long thought insurmountable gap between action jocks, movie geeks and even some critics. But before this series perfected the overblown, self aware, bat shit nuts approach to action, a couple of other movies had to test the water and get audiences to think a little differently about what an action movie could be. These were movies like the Statham-tastic Crank series, and Shoot ‘Em Up.
A heavily pregnant woman is being pursued by murderous gunmen. Witnessing her dilemma, Smith (Clive Owen) decides to intervene. Amongst a hail of bullets, Smith manages to help her give birth while returning fire the entire time. While the mother ultimately catches a bullet in the head, Smith escapes with the baby. But not before briefly coming face to face with the boss of the woman’s assailants, Paul Giamatti as Hertz.
Once Smith and the baby escape the initial skirmish, the obvious next stop is a whorehouse. Smith knows a local hooker, Donna (Monica Bellucci), whose lactation makes her a favourite amongst a certain kind of fetishist. It also means she’s equipped to help care for this new born in a way that Smith cannot. But great men must think alike, because Hertz’s first order to his men is to find him every lactating whore in town. So soon Smith, Donna and the baby are all on the run, only stopping every two to three minutes for another kick ass shoot out, while getting to the bottom of why these dudes are so determined to kill a baby.
I don’t remember what made me watch this movie for the first time five or six years ago. On the surface, it looked like the kind of dumb action movie I have no interest in. And Clive Owen is an actor who I had never seen do anything that even came close to being interesting. But for some reason, I did decide to watch it, and within the first 60 seconds, I knew I was watching something special. The opening scene has more kick ass action, more gloriously ridiculous stunts and gun trickery than most action movies have in their entirety. And it only gets more crazy from there.
It’s also the perfect showcase of what Clive Owen does best. In Shoot ‘Em Up, Smith is so amazing because he’s so wooden and stiff, all while causing and enduring this cartoon like chaos and violence. His lack of emotion and expression is the perfect juxtaposition for all of the insanity going on around him. The only thing better than Owen in Shoot ‘Em Up is Paul Giamatti in Shoot ‘Em Up. He’s chewing the scenery like crazy and obviously having a great time doing it. Which made me have a great time watching it.
Knowing there’s a new Fast and Furious due every couple of years, probably until the end of time, I’m more excited about action movies in general than I have been since I was a 10 year old who taped every Arnold Schwarzenegger that played on the telly. But I also think that the movies that helped ready audiences for the endless Fast and Furious franchise deserve a little more recognition than they get. None more, than Shoot ‘Em Up.