Film Review: May I Kill U?
No matter how much you see Kevin Bishop around, it’s hard to get the memory of him in The Muppets’ Treasure Island out of your mind. This film does try quite hard to distance him from the childhood film that birthed the comedic actor, going from a Muppet helper to a murdering cycling policeman who gains notoriety and fame for his vigilantism. Where it’s a bit heavy-handed with the social commentary with characters all seemingly agreeing with his ways and few, if any, questioning them until the third act, it’s a bit weak with challenging the vigilante. It could be a comment on how extreme it has now become; it comes off more as a bit shallow in the writing.
It opens with the London riots destroying the streets to counter the police when in reality a lot of people wanted to loot free stuff for greedy reasons – some even stealing basmati rice from Tesco. With the excuse of the riots being to stand up for a man who they believed to be wrongly shot when it turned more to them wanting free stuff, using excuses like the Tories forced them to become so desperate and that it was to combat the capitalists that were ruling their area when a lot of people stole from small business that couldn’t survive all that damage to their property. This helps define how horrendous some of the people in London were at the time, the desperation of the London police who were fed up of being powerless in a state where they should be the empowered.
As we get to grips with our two main police officers, Baz (Kevin Bishop) and Val (Hayley Marie Axe), who are partners in the cycling unit of the police. The cycling unit of the police seems rather comedic as it is with very little power, very little weaponry and very little defence. It goes too far when people show them the tiniest bit of respect and when one London youth shoves something between Baz’s spokes and makes him fly over the handlebars, smashing his head on the concrete floor, he gets headache that only thing can cure: vengeance. The blood of his victims seems to be the only thing that really stops his headaches using justice as the excuse for his breed of vigilantism when in reality it’s an almost vampiric bloodlust.
Another thing that has lead to Baz to this is his mother Bernice (Frances Barber) who has a disturbing relationship with his mother who verbally assaults him as well as helping him bathe makes this a weird moment. Unfortunately, it stops there. The social commentary is obvious; a satirical solution to the epidemic of disrespect in London, tongue-in-cheek to try and be humorous but what instead happens is a poor attempt humour throughout. There are moments that I don’t remember laughing at or hard to tell if they were supposed to be funny. The urbanised text messages and tweets that Stuart Urban chooses to show seems a shallow attempt at being hip with kids and instead angers the pedantry in people.
There are moments where you even forget it’s a comedy and it’s a bit gross in aspects of the attempt at comedy. The incest moments between mother and son in the bath aren’t funny but are more violating. Another bad aspect of it is some of the cruder lines don’t seem crude in humour but only in bluntness in an attempt at humour. Where he asks a question to a group of trafficked women in the back of a van isn’t funny but induces you to cringe at the absurdity of the line. It works better as a thriller or a gory body-horror and a not a scary horror. In those attributes it seems to achieve them quite well with moments of interest. The chemistry between Baz and Val is interesting too and it seems to take centre stage at points to an underwhelming climax.
What is interesting is the discussions that happen between Baz and Val. They have this interesting back and forth about the morality of the judicial system which are fairly conservative. What happens is that these ideals are OK in theory where you can distance yourself from the situations but when knowing the person involved it’s hard to let them go in these ways. It’s a disheartening thing to think many lost a lot of people this way for crimes that are questionable at times. It’s interesting to see the conservative views thrown into the fire when you watch them happen to these people. Unfortunately, the idea is a bit been there done that with a member of the public going postal in the aid of better things and the execution attempt at comedy-horror falls short of anything truly great or even remarkable. There’s barely a memorable moment in it but it’s not entirely painful either. A flick to watch but not one you’d love or watch again or probably even remember.