Monday, November 05, 2007

Eh, what's up, doc?

Ultraviolence is a difficult concept to pull off in a movie, and apart from a few Arnie movies dating from the great eighties, there have not been too many good efforts in this direction by hollywood. QT did do an exemplary job in a two-part movie, but by and large, the best movies of this kind have always been made in India.

From Rojni saar's stunts that manage to violate both general and special relativity (usually at the same time), to Sunny paaji's attempts to imitate Bond, we have had an abundance of movies that make use of violence to distract the viewer from seeing the 747 that's looping the loop through a gap in the plot. Of course, this assumes that a plot exists: take, for example, consider yet another Pshaw Rooke starrer that (regardless of our opinion of both Sush and Amrita Rao) should never have been made.

It is therefore appropriate to consider Shoot 'em up as Hollywood's reply, complete with: fresh produce producing fresh corpses, bullet physics that overshadow Rojni saar's two-gun makeshift howitzer shooting bad guys behind a wall[1], and the particularly unique brand of humour that results from trying to do things seriously, much like a Michael Moorcock novel. In fact, when people set out to tell a story like this, they start by combining together chopped bits of 35mm reel stolen from the celluloid graveyard, stitch by painful stitch. When eldritch lightning finally powers up unknown devices made to give such a creature life, the creators end up running screaming from it, only to be pursued and caught, since the poor thing is lonely, and wants a sequel (or perhaps two or five, but that is beside the point.)

The movie opens innocently enough, with drunk Agent Smith sitting at a bus stop trying to drown his sorrows in lukewarm coffee. Er, no, make that Mr. Smith, and it's difficult to say if he's in Washington. A much-pregnant woman hobbles past him, pursued by a carload of trash driven by a lone thug, and Schmidt decides to pursue his duties to ze vaterland, by promptly dispatching the thug and all its clones, while simultaneously attempting to discover whether the mail-order degree that he received in midwifery was worth it.

To cut much of a long (non)story short, Mr Sch err, Smith ends up with a baby in his hands, and marches off to meet "DQ", played by the Bellucci herself.

Midway through this, Mr Smith suffers an identity crisis brought about by the consumption of fresh produce, and thinks he's the wabbit himself. Naturally enough, this means that Sam turns up, played ably by Paul Giamatti, an ex-FBI-profiler turned into hirer of clone armies for ze greater good of ze greater number. Much hilarity ensues.

Unfortunately, beyond this point, the story is really a tattered transparent cloak over the container lorryful of gunfights, which makes it rather difficult to describe much more, but certain items do stand out: the one rat-power Leonardo-made lock, the critical-velocity-defying vertical gunfight ending upon a helicopter and body-strewn rails, and of course la Bellucci. Doesn't leave much out, does it? An IMDB reviewer recommends watching the last part of the first trilogy of Bourne instead, but I'd suggest watching both: it's a quick way of propping up a few economies. And remember, for those people who cannot yet watch the whole of Kill Bill in one sitting, this is useful training.

[1] I've never actually seen this. Youtube links, anyone?