Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

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Released 4-Jan-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Audio Commentary with writer/director Michael Davis
Deleted Scenes-Deleted/Alternative Scenes with Optional Commentary
Featurette-Making Of-Ballet of Bullets: The Making of Shoot 'Em Up
Featurette-Animatics
Trailer-Addictive TV Remix Trailer, Theatrical and Redband Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 83:00 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Davis
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Clive Owen
Paul Giamatti
Monica Bellucci
Stephen McHattie
Greg Bryk
Daniel Pilon
Sidney Mende-Gibson
Lucas Mende-Gibson
Kaylyn Yellowlees
Ramona Pringle
Julian Richings
Tony Munch
Scott McCord
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Paul Haslinger


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 6.1 ES Discrete (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Shoot 'Em Up is the age old story of carrot-eating Mr. Smith (Clive Owen), a tired, apathetic bystander who suddenly finds himself protecting a pregnant woman from an armed mob and becoming the surrogate father of the baby, delivered during a gunfight which claims the life of the mother. Taking to the streets with his lactating hooker girlfriend DQ (Monica Belluci), Mr. Smith must protect the infant and his own from the vicious Hertz (Paul Giamatti), all the while trying to figure out why the tot was targeted and the full extent of the insane mess he's got himself into.

   Scattershot, irresponsible, immature and insane are all accurate words to describe Shoot 'Em Up, a film without a cohesive narrative that exists only to display a dozen or so outrageous, awesome action sequences, all based around shoot-outs. Astonishing violent and astonishingly stylish, the film is a thrilling mess. Find Mr. Smith cutting the umbilical cord after helping the mother give birth by shooting it, followed up by a lengthy series of scenes reminsicent of Hard-Boiled in which our hero Smith protects the baby in his arms whilst gunning down everyone targeting him. There's a firefight in the air after Smith exits a plane midflight and is pursued by trigger happy goons anxious to annihilate him, many of whom end up falling victim to helicopter blades. A wire rigged series of firearms give Smith the advantage in a warehouse shoot-out where he's outnumbered 50-to-1; later, a sex scene is interrupted by a group of armed gunfighters and Mr. Smith returns fire while continuing to have sex. Not to mention the many scenes in which enemies are offed - extremely violently - by carrots.

   Too stupid to be truly offensive and too stylish to be repellant, consider Shoot 'Em Up to be the lowbrow amalgamation of Sin City, Merrie Melodies and every John Woo Hong Kong actioner. If not for the insane dwelling on various fetishes alongside several fascinating, perfectly-choreographed shootouts (the type where you can actually see what's going on, thank you Michael Bay) it would be instantly forgettable. But the film lacks purpose, and runs its course with unfortunate scenes of exposition that seem to suggest at different times that the film is an anti-violence tract, then a gun control tract, then an anti-gun-control tract, then something about the notion of lying to your family, and so on so on, and it all ends up being a confused mess. It's action sequences range from the astonishing - a home invasion gunfight is wonderfully choreographed and thoroughly nutty - to the truly terrible - the horrible shootout in the sky in which you'll basically be able to see the green screen - but it isn't left as particularly special because of the lack of something in the center to hold onto, even if it's undeniably fun to watch, and definitely interesting; consider the nutty morality in which dedicated mother figure DQ sells blowjobs in order to buy the baby a bulletproof vest, and later creates a cozy home for mother and child within an armored tank. At times the film seems downright vicious towards women, and constantly transgresses placing a baby in the line of fire, but it also empowers the DQ character a surprising amount for the typically misogynistic genre, and allows her to grow in her interactions between Smith and the baby. Overall, as mentioned, the film is an insane mess, and a very violent one: note the R18+ rating, which is bloody hard to earn nowadays (hey, OFLC, did you idiots actually watch Saw IV?!) and is definitely warranted by some of the wonderfully stylistic, extreme scenes of bloodletting that Shoot 'Em Up has to offer.

   But it's an undeniably entertaining film, with Clive Owen reprising his Dwight/Theo/Clive Owen role as Mr. Smith, an everyman living with the same frustrations as most hormonally charged young gents (say, frustration at aggressive drivers who cut lanes without indicating) but with the freedom to do something about them (run them off the road, into a brick wall). He sells the film, and sells the action set pieces; likewise Paul Giamatti weighs in with an excellent out-of-character perfomance as the dry, often nasty villain. It's all a lot of fun, is what I'm saying, and undeniably a notch above current action garbage like Transformers and Rush Hour 3, even if it isn't going to break into the ranks of film literature.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   If there was one word to describe the picture in Shoot 'Em Up, it would be gritty. With lots of darkness, grimy surfaces and blood splatter, there's not a lot of bright colours to fill the space, but the video transfer delivers here to show off just how good a dark film can be. There's no interlacing or artefacts, and no grain across the entire presentation, with low level noise completely absent from even the darkest scenes - that said, the trade off is the occasional lack of detail in the darker parts of scenes, although for the most the film remains consistently sharp and looks excellent.

   This is a dual-layer disc with a layer change at 76:13 that was completely unnoticeable on my equipment.

   There are English subtitles for the hearing impaired, which are accurate and readable based on my sample.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, English Dolby Digital DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Stereo).

   I'd heard some terrible things about all three different soundtracks for this film, and straight off the mark was extremely unimpressed with the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, which the DVD defaults to. With rear speaker usage kept to an absolute minimum and very little sound from the subwoofer, the only difference between this and the stereo mix is a slight increase in volume. However, switching over to the DTS-ES 6.1 I was quickly blown away by the surround and insane loud that did a number on my home theater. The action sequences come to life in all their ridiculous glory when this track is on, utilizing every speaker in nearly all scenes, putting you right in the atmosphere, and it's great.

  Not quite as well mixed as the phenomenal system-testing Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning 6.1 track, what the DTS-ES 6.1 track here lacks in clarity it makes up for with aggressive, room-filling volume that bombards from all angles. Individual sounds sometimes have a little separation from speaker to speaker which makes for an onslaught of sound rather than a more realistic surround soundscape, but regardless it enhances every scene, and not just action sequences; even smaller exposition scenes of Clive Owen arguing with Monica Belluci feel more atmospheric and engaging. All tracks feature excellent audio sync with effects and dialogue, but this is the only one that uses your entire sound system to put you right in the film.

   And you're absolutely going to want that, because the soundtrack is a blast. The original generic action orchestral score was jettisoned when Paul Haslinger suggested a rock soundtrack, and Shoot 'Em Up delivers with some of the best hard rock heard in an action film. AC/DC, Motorhead, Nirvana and Wolfmother all make appearances and they all sound superb - my favourite is Lemmy's Ace of Spades blasting over one of the most aggressive action sequences in the film, resulting in a lovely orgy of aural and onscreen violence.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   The fantastic over-the-top menus feature lots of gunshots and a sample of the film's score over a nifty montage of the film's action. Very nice!

Audio Commentary with writer/director Michael Davis

   The feature-length commentary with youthful writer/director Michael Davis is certainly energetic and enthusiastic about the film, even if it does reek of self-congratulation and one-too-many shoutouts. Davis alludes to his intentions with the reveal that he'd love the scene with Paul Giamatti and an attractive corpse to be nominated for a Best Love Scene award in the MTV Movie Awards, or else the gunplay sequence in which Clive Owen continues to copulate with Monica Bellucci while returning fire. Spouting off various great action films including John Woo's Hard-Boiled as inspiration, it's clear that Davis has seen a lot of the films referred to or emulated here, but doesn't really understand what makes them work as movies. Personal preference will dictate as to whether Davis' never-ending enthusiasm is entertaining or just painful; I did love the revelation that the pawnshop owner is wearing multiple watches on both arms as a kind of time-fetish, as one of the main themes of the film is fetishism and it's nifty that even small side characters are given something to identify with that, though it's just a shame that one can't just understand this from watching the film.

Deleted/Alternative Scenes with Optional Commentary by writer/director Michael Davis (7:54)

   This collection of deleted, extended and alternative scenes clocks in at just under 8 minutes, with a few nice spots that definitely should have been left in the movie, as well as a few clunkers that are not missed. Michael Davis continues his enthusiastic, sometimes confusing commentary over the scenes, but does shed light on some of the more baffling removals, even if the reasoning makes little sense. The decision to cut one scene, in which Clive Owen spins around shooting several dozen badguys, "for realism", has actually broken my mind. Presented in the same pretty but interlaced 2.35:1 as the film.

Ballet of Bullets: The Making of Shoot 'Em Up (52:43)

   This five-part making-of documentary covers the entirety of the production, from conception to execution in a very dynamic way that's surprisingly fun to watch, despite a lot of patting-themselves-on-the-back and truly bizarre statements from everyone involved. The biggest surprise for me is that Michael Davis isn't a twenty-something airhead, as he certainly sounds it. (He's over 45-years-old.) His glee at getting Clive Owen to do the movie as he's a "straight up action hero" makes me angry, though not as much as Owen himself declaring the script to be one of the most "fresh and original" that he's ever read. The cast and crew boast of a certain level of realism presented by the film, which suggests there was a gas leak in the studio, and there's also the usual creepy gun fetishism normally restrained to Michael Bay garbage. Regardless, the documentary is an interesting examination of how the film was made, how the characters were constructed, how scenes were shot, how the Second Unit became more important, how everything truly came together to make this film. I liked watching how they created the astonishingly awful skydiving shootout, which took more effort than anything else in the film only to come out as the very worst scene. (See the underrated Eraser to see how a sequence like this is actually done.) It's also nifty to see Davis's animatics for the action sequences, which he created to pitch the film. Presented in 1.85:1, with clips from the film in 2.35:1.

Animatics (22:23)

   Beginning with an introduction from Michael Davis over still clips from the film's production explaining what these are all about and how they were created, this Animatics Reel shows off the 20 minute long animatics of the film's action scenes used to pitch the film. Davis has a surprisingly good commentary track to go with these, which will actually be of some interest to budding filmmakers interested in effective storyboarding and animatics. In 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Trailers - Addictive TV Remix Trailer (2:30), Theatrical Trailer (2:04), Red Band Trailer (2:30)

   A series of trailers for the film, the first of which is the movie trailer version of one of those awful, annoying music remixes in which someone messes up your favourite song to make some kind of aggressive techno dance remix - it's terrible. The Theatrical and Red Band Trailer fare better, featuring a lovely gritty graphic novel look that accurately represents the film with plenty of clips of the action and bloodshed. The TV Remix trailer is in horribly aliased 2.35:1 with no 16x9 enhancement, whereas the others are deliciously bloody 16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 in full detail.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The R1 and R4 DVDs of this film are absolutely identical aside from PAL & NTSC differences.

Summary

   Shoot 'Em Up is a bloody, violent, nonsensical good time. Leave brain and common sense at the door.

   The video and audio transfers are both very good.

   The extras are also very good, with elements to appeal to fans and young filmmakers alike.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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