After an accident on the job, London bicycle cop Baz (Kevin Bishop) finds a new found hatred for the criminality all around him. Acting out violently, but covertly, Baz starts treating criminals to a fresh brand of on-the-spot justice. With his helmet cam set to record, Baz starts killing criminals dumb enough to agree that they deserve the punishment he’s offering. He then uploads the footage and takes to Twitter, to anonymously share his vigilante exploits. And, of course, his behavior goes viral, making him something of a vigilante celebrity.
Compassion eventually presents itself when Baz confronts, and bonds with, an elderly woman, and a new love in his life spurs Baz to further question his actions, and whether to continue. Unfortunately for Baz, however, he’s now become the target of someone who has figured out his identity, and his police colleagues aren’t that far behind in figuring out what’s going on.
Stuart Urban’s May I Kill U? is a dark commentary on both the social media fed society at large, and a skewed, contemporary take on the superhero origin story. Until Baz gets injured, he’s unhappy with the lawlessness around him, and often his inability to do anything, but he begrudgingly takes it. But like many a superhero tale that turns on an accident, after his injury he’s the justice-hungry vigilante with the warped sense of morality, thinking that, as long as the criminals agree to their violent punishment, it’s okay to kill them. His bike cop outfit is his hero costume, and the internet and social media act as is his conscience.
Which is one of the other interesting aspects of the film, how it utilizes social media as a character and, often, as a moral compass for Baz’s actions. Before dispatching someone, or directly after, Baz takes to Twitter to converse with his followers over what he should do, or whether what he did do is acceptable. It’s interesting because social media vigilantism isn’t outside the realm of reality right now; how many people harassed that elderly couple down in Florida when Spike Lee took to Twitter and erroneously shared their address, thinking it was George Zimmerman’s, after Trayvon Martin was killed? That the opposite could be true, someone using the Twitter crowd to justify or guide their actions, isn’t that hard to believe.
And the film does a great job of integrating the social media and technological age we’re in with smart editing and polished effects and overlays. The technological aspect doesn’t delay or distract; it’s as in tune with what’s happening on screen as anything else. The fact that it is so easily absorbed and accepted probably says more about our own habits and tech multi-tasking than it does the film.
Continuing down the tech-side of the film, while the film is pretty bleak, and the humor dark and dry, the editorial style and pacing often adds more liveliness to the story. Couple that with the quality of the image, and again the overlays and other effects-work, and the film is visually quite creative and fun to watch.
Overall, May I Kill U? is a dark comedy that is more relevant than it initially lets on. This may be a fictional film now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re reading about something like this in our local newspapers, or hearing about some social media fed vigilante going too far. Which is what ultimately elevates the film beyond its peculiar sense of humor, that outside fear that we’re living in an age where something like this film’s narrative could be inevitable.
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