Published Jan 21, 2014Anyone who can remember the '80s cop show parody Sledge Hammer! knows that creator Alan Spencer doesn't really do sophisticated humour. And not much has changed in the past 25 years — his 2012 show Bullet In The Face carries on in a very similar vein. It tells the tale of a sociopathic criminal Gunter Vogler (Max Williams) who gets caught up in a failed jewel heist and is shot in the face when it all goes wrong.
In the first of many ironic twists, he gets the face of the cop he murdered during the robbery transplanted onto his and is blackmailed by the police department into pretending to be that cop in order to bring down his former boss Tannhausen (Eddie Izzard). If he succeeds, he gets his old face back again. Naturally, nothing goes to plan, because Vogler is a sociopath and so is pretty much everyone else in the show.
Bullet In The Face is not a subtle show. From the cartoonish violence to the ridiculous accents, everything about it is cranked up to 11, and that over-the-top-ness is definitely not for everyone. The one-liners are often deliberately bad in the same way David Caruso's sunglasses off moments are on CSI Miami, and that can get a little exhausting. It takes Izzard to keep the whole thing grounded by showing a remarkable amount of restraint in his performance, yet still appearing wonderfully unhinged. Without him, the whole thing might just collapse under its own ridiculousness. The rest of the cast throw themselves in with great aplomb, chewing up the scenery at every opportunity, and Eric Roberts even shows up and adds some gravitas to the whole thing.
As tongue-in-cheek as it is, there are some things about Bullet In The Face that really jar. It isn't particularly nice to any of the female characters, and apart from the first episode with its face-swapping setup, the plots don't manage to keep up with the bizarreness of the premise; they seem to simply be there as an excuse for the manic performances. Still, it is eminently watchable and does generate a few genuine belly laughs during its six episode run. As a whole, it gets a very mild thumbs up.
Spencer provides a very chatty commentary track on every episode during which he shares his years of experience and gives some insight into the making of the show. (Shout! Factory)