Thursday, August 23, 2012

TV REVIEW: Bullet in the Face (2012)

It's been a week now since IFC aired over two night the entire 6 episodes of their latest original TV show, and I still can't decide if it's brilliantly insane or just a spectacular misfire. Series director Erik Canuel is known, at least here in Canada, as a guy who tries to make both the audience and financial backers happy, pretends to be edgy but delivers pre-cooked, unoriginal content that barely takes a chance. On the other hand, he works of the writings of Alan Spencer, the off-the-wall mind behind cult classic, ultra-violent fan favorite 80s show Sledge Hammer. So what the heck DID I just watch?

In an undisclosed country's fictional metropolis or Br┼ęteville, the only thing thicker than the permanent smog is the crime rate that turned the city into a war zone. Pigeons gets shot randomly mid-flight, jewellery stores are operator by ex-mossad agents and criminals are as ruthless as they are clueless. When the bloodiest of them, Gunter Vogler, gets shot in the face by his lover during a botched robbery, he is secretly transplanted with the face of a glorified cop he killed. The reason behind such a move, ordered by a lady police commissioner with ballpark-size daddy issues, is to fight evil with evil, pit Vogler against the two crime Lords who control the city.

If the plot makes little sense, worry not, it matters even less. Very quickly the characters, straight out of some Frank Miller nightmare, themselves highjack this series with twists and turns that feels like All My Children as written by Marilyn Manson. A lot of it is funny if only because it's much too insane to be properly criticized. And because Eric Roberts, for once, didn't take himself seriously either and is actually, absolutely funny. And a great contrast to series star Max Williams who perfected an impression of Robin Williams on a cocaine rampage.

Most of the targets from this satire are quite deserving but also way too easy and even uncomfortably NOT subtle, like the compulsive gamer kid hooked on energy drinks who goes out and shoots people for real; Colorado movie theater, anyone?  But then comes along Eddie Izzard who steals the show six ways till Sunday with an hilarious delivery rivaled only by some of the best lines I've heard on TV. Examples:

-We could name our child FIRE! and create mass panic whenever we call his name!

"You think you're GOD!" 
"No! HE thinks he's ME!"

-"Are you busy?"
"I'm in the middle of a woman!"  

-I don't want to live the rest of my life with a face I don't recognize. I'm not Mickey Rourke.

IFC probably didn't put much stock or faith in the series seeing as they dumped the whole of it on two subsequent nights. Yet I can't help but wonder the reaction generated had it been shown on HBO. It would have certainly caused some wildly divergent opinions, but what would the final word be - brilliant or just another sell-out attempt at attracting a hard-edge crowd?

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