Barry Vartis (Bishop) is a cop – a bobby patrolling the mean streets of London. To be precise, he's a bicycle patrolman. He has a partner who's quite fond of him, and an abusive mother who he still lives with. He's also a little bit of a serial killer – but a very polite (and grammatical) one, always askling his victims, may I kill you?
A very black comedy cum social commentary, May I Kill U? feels a little like a reaction to London's summer riots of 2011. It's not – writer-director Urban had begun work on the film before the riots took place. but they do feature in the film. In fact, Baz's first victim is a teenage rioter, who's fittingly despatched by being beaten to death with the plasma TV he has stolen. Baz films the whole thing with his helmet-cam, and posts the video online anonymously. Soon he's a social media hero, tweeting eith the username @N4cethelaw and generating buzz on the film's equivalents of Facebook and YouTube. He kills a wife-beater, a drug dealer and Bulgarians who are trafficking women as prostitutes. Baz even takes home one of the rescued women, Maya (Koleczek), which enrages his mother.
May I Kill U? doesn't endorse the vigilantism seen in the film. It portrays Baz as a disturbed individual, suffering from migraine headaches and a man who is deeply disturbed by his upbringing. Baz even claims: "I'm not a murderer, I'm a death facilitor." The film does take a dig at the rise of social media celebrity, as well as some of the kneejerk sentencing that arose form the 2011 riots.
It's certainly entertaining and thought-provoking, and very funny in places. But there are a few tonal shifts that don't quite work as it swings from social satire to a bit of a gorefest. That said, it's got great production values for such a low-budget effort, a great performance from Bishop and a sharp, clever script. And it's a truly fresh, original idea, which is all too rare these days.
EXTRAS ★★★½ An audio commentary with writer-director Urban and star Bishop; a making-of documentary (24:42); an interview with Urban (8:56); an interview with criminal psychologist Dr David Holmes about serial killers and the character of Baz (13:41); out-takes (1:07); and behind-the-scenes clips (2:51).• Interview: Hayley-Marie Axe