Release Date: January 1, 2008
Rating: 2 ½/5 ½/
Starring: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie
Written and Directed by: Michael Davis
Shoot ‘Em Up is an action thriller that goes so far over the top, it passes into the realm of comedy and then passes all the way through to the other side where it reverts back to thriller mode. In the spirit of Crank, we are injected into the world of a taciturn anti-hero (Clive Owen) who is nothing less than superhuman in his ability to shoot the bad guys and evade their bullets. There are in-jokes throughout the film, referencing the James Bond series, the Matrix films and, of course the stylings of John Woo. The action begins almost immediately as Owen’s character gets involved in defending a delivering mother from an army of bad guys, and accelerates as we learn who was after her (and the baby) and why. It all gets to be a bit much, with Owen mowing down bad guys practically with a gun in one hand and the baby in the other, or mowing down more bad guys in the middle of a graphic love scene. If you’re a fan of this kind of film, particularly Crank, you’ll likely enjoy the ride. If not, it may simply be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
VIDEO QUALITY: 3 ½/5 ½
Shoot ‘Em Up is presented in a crisp and colourful 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that holds solid black levels during the numerous night sequences, and shows off an array of rich colors. Flesh tones are accurate, though in many cases, the characters wind up speckled with blood or grime. There’s a lot of blood on display here and the transfer shows it nicely – by the same token, there are also lots of rich orange carrots on display as well.
AUDIO QUALITY: 4 ½/5 ½
Shoot ‘Em Up is presented in a 448 kpbs Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, alongside a 755 kbps DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete mix and a simpler 192 kpps Stereo Surround mix. All three mixes are in English. The DTS mix is the clearest, obviously, with bullet hits sounding throughout the home theatre and music and atmospheric effects working at pleasing levels. In spite of all the mayhem going on during the shootouts, the quieter dialogue interludes come across clearly through the front speakers. Given that the goal here was to create a big and noisy sound mix to accompany a big and noisy film, I’d say they succeeded with flying colors. The only caution, as you might expect, is not to play this really loud at night in an apartment...
SPECIAL FEATURES: 3 ½/5 ½
Shoot ‘Em Up is loaded with special features, including a feature commentary, a full making-of documentary, deleted scenes, animatics, trailers, and a DVD-ROM component that can be accessed by people using Windows XP.
Feature Commentary with Director Michael Davis – In this scene-specific commentary, Michael Davis talks throughout the film about the cast, the production and how the film differs from the shooting script. It’s a pretty full commentary, and Davis is certainly enthusiastic about his movie. If you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll enjoy watching the film with him.
Deleted Scenes – (8:04 total, Anamorphic) - Several deleted scenes, mostly just scene extensions, are included here with optional commentary by Davis. In almost every case, the material was deemed to be repetitive or a drag on the scene. One complete sequence of Owen scaling a brick wall without getting shot by the army of bad guys was removed due to everyone concluding that it was preposterous that he didn’t get hit even once. (Of course, you could say that about several other scenes, but this one was pretty egregious.) The scenes can be viewed separately or in a single PLAY ALL function.
Animatics (22:20 total, Non-anamorphic) – Michael Davis’ animatics reel is included here, with optional commentary by Davis to explain what is going on. Basically, Davis sketched out entire action sequences and scanned the sketches into his Mac to create a reel to sell New Line (and then the cast) on the idea of making the movie. The animatics are presented in non-anamorphic format, and can be viewed separately or in a single PLAY ALL function. As an added bonus, the completed action sequences can also be viewed if you click the bullet function next to each animatic’s title.
Ballet of Bullets: The Making of SHOOT ‘EM UP – (52:45, Anamorphic) – This is a pretty comprehensive look at the making of the film, with video interviews with Davis, his producers, the cast, stuntmen and crew intercut with on-set video and bits of film footage. The documentary comes in several parts, the longest of which is concerned with the general production itself. The other parts are concerned with aspects including casting, training, and an exhaustive discussion of the film’s weapons with the show’s prop armorer. As with the other features, you may select a PLAY ALL function to view the whole documentary in one chunk.
Trailers Three trailers for the film are included here. The first is the “Addictive TV Remix Trailer” (2:38, Non-anamorphic), which plays like a bizarre remix of the regular trailer. It’s non-anamorphic, which makes me think it was meant to be aired on television. On the other hand, it also goes on for over 2 ½ minutes, which makes me wonder what channel would air it. Next, we have the Theatrical Trailer (2:09, Anamorphic), which just presents the general trailer seen in theatres. Finally, we get the more graphic “Red Band” Trailer (2:03, Anamorphic), which gives us a little helping of the violence and language available in the longer film.
Sneak Peeks – (Anamorphic) - Several trailers for upcoming New Line films and DVDs are presented, in case you miss them when initially putting the disc in the player. They are Be Kind, Rewind, Harold and Kumar 2, the unrated DVD for The Number 23, a somewhat blurry trailer for Rush Hour 3, a somewhat blurry trailer for Mr. Woodcock, a brief teaser for The Invasion, a brief teaser for The Brave One, a preview for The Hard Easy and a trailer for the DVD release of the British TV series MI-5.
DVD-ROM Content – This DVD also comes loaded with the InterActual DVD-ROM program, which, when installed, enables Windows XP users to access additional features. There are links to the film’s official website, to the New Line website, and to a “Hot Spot” website that apparently is rotated within the New Line web circle. A more interesting feature is the interactive movie viewer, which allows the user to watch the film in a reduced window while reading the shooting script, look at production photos from the set, or watch a “Damage” counter that updates the body count at the end of each scene with helpful notes about what kind of carnage has just been inflicted. A bookmarking option is also included. A subtitle track is also included that can be turned off. If you choose the option to read the script, please be aware that the finished film is quite different. I found it most helpful to have the director’s commentary on when looking at the script, as Davis explains the various cuts and additions. The script and damage options can be flipped through without waiting for the film to get there, simply by arrowing down through their pages. I should again note that the InterActual program only seems to work on Windows computers that use the XP program or earlier. My Vista computer could not access the content past the initial screen, even after several reboots, which sent me back to an earlier laptop that had XP on it. Also, the DVD menu says that the program will not work on Macintosh computers. On the other hand, however, the InterActual website has a download for Macs. If anyone actually has a Mac that can play these functions, please post a response.
Subtitles are available in English and Spanish for the film itself, and for the special features. Strangely, the back of the DVD packaging indicates that the subtitles are only available for the feature film. This is not true. I activated subtitles while watching the deleted scenes and the documentary. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference. When the disc is initially started, the viewer is presented with the anamorphic previews also bundled under the “Sneak Peeks” heading.
IN THE END...
Shoot ‘Em Up is an overwhelming action movie that certainly doesn’t take itself seriously, but may tax your patience if you’re not ready for the ride. Fans of Crank and its ilk will have a great time. Fans of Clive Owen or John Woo will likely enjoy this as well. I strongly recommend that the uninitiated rent this one first.
January 3, 2007.