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May I Kill U? DVD

By Louis Trythall

Stuart Urban’s May I Kill U? is not a film lacking in ambition. At a moment in time when social networks loom over our landscape like colossal, unscalable mountains – shaping, denying and mediating culture at the click of a button – a film with the necessary guile to pointedly satirize the absurdity of this overbearing social mediasphere could become an instant cult classic. Unfortunately, for all its itchiness behind the trigger, May I kill U? fires just too many blanks. The film too dense to capitalise on its own sharp/trashy promise.

May I Kill U? begins by throwing us into a cyclone of chaos. Sirens squeal over the top of breaking glass, fires and Riot police – as DJs and callers attempt to narrate the madness. “Things have boiled over boiling point, you know what I mean?” one DJ begins. “The police can’t deal with it, can they? […] Things are going badly, right? And we need some kind of saviour…Jesus or Batman, or someone like that”.

Enter bicycle-cop Baz (Kevin Bishop) . After being attacked by gang member Clark (Tyson Oba), Baz – feeding off the failings of the criminal justice system – decides to take the law into his own hands. Armed with a helmet-camera, a voice distortion app and a proxy server, Baz exacts his revenge on Clark – decapitating him with a stolen Plasma TV – before posting the video online and on social networks. Overnight, Baz becomes an internet viral sensation. And as he basks in the seemingly rapturous web-applause of this ‘act’, so begins Baz’s descent from honest cop to ‘well-meaning’ vigilante.

Baz’s semi-hedonistic, semi-altruistic rampage sees him ‘purging’ London of anyone he considers “a drain on society” – uttering the ubiquitous line, “May I kill you?” before pulling the proverbial trigger (or rather taser). But as his fame and notoriety ignite in an explosion of hits, followers and flame-wars , the hedonistic thrills soon appear to outweigh Baz’s original, gallant intentions.

Cut through the police tape, however, and  May I Kill U? – much like its dim-witted protagonist Baz – is not without its problems. While Urban’s conceit shows cultural-awareness and trash-cinema potential, May I Kill U? serves as an 87-minute reminder that potential can all too easily be squandered. Whereas Harron‘s American Psycho – aided enormously by Bret Easton Ellis‘ seminal novel –  elegantly balances an axis of razor-sharp cultural observations and jet-black comedy, May I Kill U? feels decidedly blunt and only murky-grey, by comparison.

The social network elements, for all their promise, also can’t help but disappoint. Poorly integrated, and condensed to a barrage of instant message/sub-YouTube comments that unattractively litter the outer-edges of the screen, May I Kill U? is – in this sense – more a filmic mirror to 21st living, than any kind of commentary. Similar to the film’s crude handling of crime and punishment, if Urban has something to say, he certainly never quite finds the words.

Despite fleeting moments of gritty charm, May I Kill U? is left chasing shadows for large stretches. Muddled and seldom amusing, Urban’s film never quite convinces. May I Kill U? is likeable enough to avoid capital punishment; but this black comedy still has at least one flat tyre.

Rating: 2/5
Cast: Kevin Bishop, Jack Doolan, Frances Barber
Director: Stuart Urban
Plot: Disillusioned by a failing justice system, bicycle-cop Baz turns self-appointed judge, jury and executioner – cleansing London of its supposed suffering.
Running Time: 87 minutes
BBFC Certificate: 15
Country of Origin: UK
Release Date (DVD): 15 April, 2013
Genre: Comedy, Horror

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