This weekend I saw a couple action flicks of a very different orientation, and as an action flick connoisseur, I was amply rewarded.
Vantage Point as to be the most emotionally gripping action movie since, well there's got to be something since 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' aside from 'Mercury Rising' but I can't think of what it might be. While it's certainly not quite in the class of 'Unbreakable' it almost gets there. But maybe that's just because I'm a patriot and the emotional commitment of Secret Service agents kind of gets me right here.
As you know, VP consists of an almost tiresome repetition of the scene of an extraordinary terrorist plot to assassinate the President of the United States at a world peace conference in Spain, all taken from different points of view. What you know depends upon what you've seen and what you're seeing next that you haven't seen. The film does a fairly good job of keeping all the actors, motives and actions hidden from view fairly far into the movie, even for fairly sophisticated mystery buffs like myself. There's a little bit of the old 'look at the expression in people's faces as they see something incredible but don't show it to the camera' trick, but this time it actually works to good effect.
The entire setup is a seriously done film with no throwaway stereotypes, neither good guys nor bad guys, and without being slyly political. The acting is very good, there are relatively few suspensions of disbelief necessary.
Shoot Em Up
This is, hands down, the second funniest action spoof ever. Right behind 'Kung Fu Shuffle', this is a real rib-splitter. The only way it could have been improved is if the Coen Brothers did it, even so, I doubt they could have pulled it off. I only read one review, and they said if you like Snatch or Crank, you'll love this. Hmm. Now that I think about it, we'll have to put this at number three behind Snatch. But still ahead of Hot Fuzz, Crank, In Bruges, and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels on the hilarity scale. This one is played purely for cant. Not a bunch of sophisticated humor, but what perfect timing, what action farce.
You've got the most improbable gun battles imaginable captured on film. It's almost like Sin City meets Jackie Chan, except everything is with guns. In fact, there's even a gun battle inside a warehouse full of guns, and if you think old Western movies had the lock on humor about a guy with crazy gun skills, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Shoot Em Up opens with our improbable hero sitting on a bus stop in the cold heart of the heartless city and a pregnant woman runs by. Some dirtbag is chasing her, and the hero saves her, in a manner of speaking. But you have never, ever seen a gun battle happening when a woman is giving birth, which is basically your clue. If you're not laughing out loud by the kind of black humor that evokes, then you need to forget it now, because it only gets more twisted and absurd. The dialog is just right, and the running joke of the entire movie works the entire movie.
This is one that I rented, the first ever, from iTunes movie rentals. Definitely worth the four bucks. I downloaded and played it on my iPod. Just right.