I mean, hey, that's funny.
OK. Maybe it's a guy thing.
Clive Owen is the carrot-chomping Mr. Smith, a tough-looking guy in a long leather coat who's sitting on a bus bench on a seedy Manhattan side street, minding his own mysterious business, when a screaming pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) runs past him, as does a profanity-spewing ne'er-do-well with a gun. Sighing, Smith gives chase, leading to a warehouse shootout involving an assortment of heavily armed creeps led by a snarling Paul Giamatti, a great actor who's clearly decided that he deserves a silly action-movie moment to call his own. Besides, what mortal man could resist the chance to repeatedly fire a semi-automatic at a man as heedlessly, arrogantly handsome as Clive Owen?
Writer-director Michael Davis, who has made four previous films that no one really remembers, freely admits having lifted the idea for Shoot 'Em Up from the classic baby-in-peril hospital shootout in John Woo's Hong Kong thriller Hard-Boiled. Originality is no longer the path to success, hence Davis's enthusiastic nods to Raising Arizona, The Matrix and a British series about a spy named James Bond.
Shoot 'Em Up is guilty pleasure junk that Giamatti surely took for the manly-man hell of it. And though he'd likely deny the theory, it's fun to imagine that Owen took the movie as a way of thumbing his nose a little at new Bond Daniel Craig, his countryman and acting equal, who may have simply out-pec'd Owen for the big part.