In this extremely violent, guilty pleasure of a thriller, Clive Owen is a tough guy in a long leather coat who comes to the rescue of a screaming pregnant woman being chased by a creep with a gun. A warehouse shoot-out and birth ensue, and before long, Owen is tucking the infant under his arm and running for his life, a snarling Paul Giamatti and an army of hit men on his tail. Writer-director Michael Davis freely admits to lifting the idea for Shoot 'Em Up from John Woo's 1992 Hard-Boiled. Further riffs on James Bond movies are so old hat as to be a sign of lazy screenwriting, but such jokes take on new resonance with the presence of Owen. There's no way to watch him running, leaping, and firing a gun in a single, elegant bound and not wonder anew just how close he came to landing the big part, the one that went instead to Daniel Craig, who, one comes to realize, may have simply out-pec'd Owen for the role of a lifetime.
Giamatti is our kind of heartless assassin.
Opens at area theaters, Fri., Sept. 7. Rated R. 93 minutes.