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Movie Review

A man named Smith is sitting on a bus-stop bench gnawing on a carrot when a pregnant woman labors past him and turns the corner. A moment later, a car squeals to a stop nearby and a thuggish man steps out. He follows in the woman's direction, pulling a gun out of his coat. Smith is reluctant to get involved, but when he hears the woman scream he can't help himself.

He quickly deals with the thug by shoving the carrot down his throat so hard it comes out the back of his neck. But then the woman begins to give birth as a dozen other mugs show up with hardware in hand. The Good Samaritan fights off the gang with pinpoint gun-wielding precision while delivering the baby (and shooting off its umbilical cord).

In the commotion, the new mom is killed, and Smith is left with a child to care for—a child that gangs of killers seem to want dead. Mr. Hertz, especially, wants the kid cold. He's an FBI consultant-turned-hit man who just wants this whole messy job finished so that he can go attend his little son's birthday party.

But a carrot-eating stranger named Smith is in his way.

Smith isn't sure what to do with the newborn, so he recruits a lactating lady of the night named DQ to help him out. With feeding time covered, the two makeshift guardians put their heads together to solve this little tyke's mystery. A heavy metal clue leads them to a ring of surrogate mothers and a connection to an important politician. But Mr. Hertz and his growing army of gunmen aren't making the going easy.

Positive Elements

Mr. Smith has a strong sense of duty that motivates him to protect the helpless pregnant woman and her quickly orphaned child. In doing so, he repeatedly puts his life on the line.

Smith and DQ make a pact, of sorts, to parent and protect the child. This arrangement evolves into love, and Smith indicates that he wants to marry the now-ex-hooker and become a family.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Smith and DQ kiss and strip off their clothes. While mostly naked, they engage in explicitly depicted sex that continues through a gun battle and ends in orgasm up against a wall. The unexpected arrival of several masked assailants doesn't send them scurrying for cover. Rather, without disentangling themselves, they roll off the bed, Smith retrieves his gun and scrambles to his feet—still clutching DQ. (She's nude except for a short skirt; he displays, for a moment, his bare backside.) DQ is so "focused" on their sex act that she barely seems to notice the gunmen as Smith shoots them and they crash dead to the floor.

As Smith walks through a brothel, the camera spies several women in various stages of undress including breast and rear nudity. One woman is seen straddling a naked man. DQ breastfeeds a man who's dressed in a diaper. She also gives a man oral sex in an alleyway to raise money to buy the baby a bulletproof vest. (We see the facial reactions of her "client.")

In an extremely disturbing scene, Mr. Hertz gets sexual satisfaction from fondling a dead woman's exposed breast.

Smith and Hertz both deliver a variety of obscene quips. At least one deals with anal sex. Hertz decides on a card featuring a bikini-clad model for his 8-year-old son's birthday.

Violent Content

From the opening scene to the closing credits, the graphic bloodletting action is constant. Weapons used include everything from that crisp carrot to a 50-caliber cannon. Up-close-and-personal violence ranges from a man torturing a woman by holding a hot gun barrel on her bare thigh to bloody headshots to slashing dismemberments.

One example: Smith is cornered in an airplane. He takes a hostage into a lower hold and shoots him in the forehead. After that he grabs a parachute and leaps out, followed closely by dozens of gunmen. A raging midair battle culminates with an adversary falling into the whirling blades of a helicopter and having his arms cut off. When Smith lands, the nearby field is full of scattered dead bodies and body parts that have splattered to the ground.

Other vivid images include a man being jabbed in the eye, and DQ grabbing a club owner's crotch and ripping off his genital jewelry. (We see the bloody ring afterwards.) What we believe to be a baby is run over by a car. A man has all his fingers broken, one at a time, and a scalpel is driven into his forehead. Another has his middle finger shot off.

Crude or Profane Language

Fifteen f-words and a handful of s-words lead the way. There are also two or three uses each of "d--n," "h---," "b--ch" and "b--tard," and a half-dozen or so uses of "a--." God's name is combined with "d--n" five or six times. And there are at least as many foul references to sexual body parts.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Mr. Hertz downs prescription meds in combination with alcohol.

Other Negative Elements

Despite the fact that Smith is trying to save the baby's life, it's hard to countenance shots of the infant being roughly transported in Smith's coat or tossed around in a backpack.

A dirty "diaper" (it's made of newspaper) is rubbed on a guy's face. The same grime is shown smeared on a picture.


Shoot 'Em Up is one of the purest examples of truth in advertising that I've seen for some time. For it is indeed nothing more and nothing less than what its title and its trailers suggest. By and large this film exists only to find creative ways to throw its stubble-bearded star, Clive Owen, into as many outlandish gun battles as possible. It also tosses in sordid sexual scenes and snippets of misguided humor courtesy of Monica Bellucci and Paul Giamatti, respectively.

Smith fights off killers while birthing a baby and while having sex. He puts his guns to "good" use in a brothel, in a weapons factory, during a car chase and while plummeting downward, several miles in the air. He kills people by the score with headshots, gut shots, ricochet trick shots and femoral artery blowouts. Guns blaze as he jumps off bridges and catapults through car windows. And he improvises the art of death delivery with everything from well-placed leafy-topped roots to a shotgun on a rope.

There are no moral struggles here. No redeeming moments. No points of honorable storyline tension. In fact, there's very little storyline at all. Shoot 'Em Up, with its absurdly ultraviolent pyrotechnics, could easily be seen as little more than a super-spy action spoof or, perhaps, a shanghaied and sleazed-up Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The carrot-crunching Smith and the schlubby, snarling Hertz certainly fit.

But it would be wrong to insult the humorously wisecracking wabbit with such a comparison. For Shoot 'Em Up's parade of human carnage and hacked-off limbs—goaded on by profane one-liners, nude women and a nod to necrophilia—is anything but funny.

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Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Readability Age Range



Clive Owen as Mr. Smith; Monica Bellucci as DQ; Paul Giamatti as Mr. Hertz


Michael Davis ( )


New Line Cinema



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Bob Hoose

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