These films – and Shoot ’Em Up is perhaps the purest of this ilk to come out in a while – drill their way into the bull’s eye center of the brain, hatch little eggs and never leave.
While Shoot ’Em Up might not attract the fairer sex in any large quantity, it’s top flight cast (Clive Own, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci) and elaborately conceived action sequences are potent neurochemical bullets for dudes of all ages. Alternately, if you find a guy being stabbed through the throat by a carrot, a lactating whore or a mid-air shoot out to be engrossing, this film is for you.
Bellucci plays the quintessential action movie heroine, Donna Quintana, the hooker with the heart of gold who supplies the sex in the action movie trinity of sex, violence and justice. Part of the appeal of this film for Bellucci was working on a movie that wouldn’t likely be made in Europe.
“I’m European,” she explains. “To me, this is an American movie. We don’t do this kind of movie over there. When I’m in Europe, I do more art movies.”
Bellucci was also drawn to the film by the bizarre yet complete vision of writer/director Michael Davis.
“I said, Oh my god what is this?” she continues. “How does Michael think he is going to do this movie?”
Although this was Davis’ first big flick, the Italian star agreed to the production because clearly, “He had a vision.” A vision with babies born in firefights, genius murderers with necrophiliac tendencies and roughly a bagillion guns – but a vision nonetheless.
Paul Giamatti’s villain, Mr. Hertz, has just one scene with Bellucci’s DQ, but they made the most of it. Bellucci even taught Giamatti some Italian, especially for the scene.
According to Giamatti, “She actually told me to call her. I can’t remember what it is in Italian … she had me call her something like a ‘dirty pig’ or something like that, which apparently in Italian is the worst thing you can say to a woman. So she can’t wait until people in Italy watch this movie, because people will go nuts.”
Knowing the ridiculousness inherent in the film made shooting together a comic experience.
“She was laughing a lot,” Giamatti remembers. “It was surprising. I thought I’m gonna be climbing on top of you burning you with a gun, and you’re laughing? She was having a good time. She’s game for anything, that woman.”
Her scenes with Owen’s Mr. Smith range from the violent, the steamy and the steamily violent, particularly during a groundbreaking mid-coitus action sequence.
“I was a bit scared because the scene is sensual,” Bellucci shares. “But the sex is funny, and it is violent at the same time.”
Owen was apparently a fine partner for the scene.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to do those kind of scenes [naked sex, cartoon murder scenes],” she says. “Clive is so generous. He has the best sense of humor, and he’s a real English gentleman.”
When he’s not setting up machine gun booby traps, murdering henchmen or having his fingers broken, that is.
All the on-set collegiality shouldn’t distract from what the film is really about; stylized action.
“The movie is violent, of course; but at the same time it’s rock ’n’ roll, it’s dark, it’s crazy, it’s over the top like a comic,” says Bellucci. “In some ways, it’s a video game. It’s just incredible.”
Shoot ’Em Up releases in theaters Sept. 7.