Review: May I Kill U? / Cert: 15 / Director: Stuart Urban / Screenplay: Stuart Urban / Starring: Kevin Bishop, Jack Doolan, Frances Barber / Release Date: January 11th 2013
Ross Noble as a murderous clown in Stitches. Keith Chegwin and Joe Pasquale victims in a slasher movie called Kill Keith. That other, no less socially unacceptable Keith (Lemon) headlining an actual movie. Yep, what with one thing and another, it's been a strange year for British cinema. Most unlikely of all, though, is May I Kill U? which stars cuddly comedian Kevin Bishop as a crazed and dangerous vigilante police officer.
It's hard to picture Kevin Bishop (Grange Hill!) as a crazed and dangerous anything (although he did throw a bottle at the cast of The Inbetweeners once, at some comedy awards), but he does a surprisingly sterling job of portraying unsettled, angry Barry Vartis, a constable who receives a rather nasty bang on the head when he is knocked off his bike by a gang of uncouth youths. It's not exactly RoboCop, but this injury spurs him on to unleash his own brand of justice upon the criminals of London. His gimmick: uploading his kills and murderous diatribes online, where he becomes a minor hero.
With its dodgy title, unconventional leading man and graffiti logo (never a good sign) May I Kill U? could have gone horribly wrong. Any doubts are soon allayed, however, in an opening which sees Bishop brutally smash in a kid's face with a flat-screen TV. Broad spoofery this is not. Watch the film expecting zany broad comedy a la Star Stories or The Kevin Bishop Show, and you'll be sorely disappointed. Funny as it is, the story is played surprisingly straight at times. Bishop, bless him, seems to be trying his hardest to deliver a “real” performance, but he does so using his Ross Kemp voice from The Kevin Bishop Show. He's not always convincing, but he is a likeable if bizarre presence, playing a polite British Maniac Cop – and he's certainly moved on from lampooning Elton John and Gordon Ramsay. Then there's a terrifying Frances Barber, who transforms the film into something horrible. Playing Baz's hypochondriac alcoholic mother, Barber is simply vile. Bishop's scenes with her are shockingly saddening and real. This, combined with the film's black - but frequently funny – humour, sudden acts of violence and clever integration of social media, makes May I Kill U? something more than immediately disposable British comedy.
May I Kill U? is not at all what you might expect it to be. It's witty, snappily directed, surprisingly dark and unexpectedly sad at times. This very English Bad Lieutenant is a Trending Topic U really should keep your eye on.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10