Release Date(s)2012 (January 21, 2014)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D+
Sledge Hammer creator Alan Spencer gets another shot at creating a quirky and eclectic show for the masses, and he succeeded in the execution department with Bullet in the Face. The problem is that it was just too quirky and eclectic for everyone, and it didn’t help that the channel that ran it, IFC, didn’t give it a fair shake. It only lasted six episodes, yet things like *Your Pick For Current Worst Reality Show* continues to be renewed for more seasons, but I digress.
Bullet in the Face isn’t what your grandmother would call quality television. It’s a parody of hyper-stylized European action movies that go completely over the top with lots of violence and overacting to achieve their goal. Being a very big fan of Sledge Hammer, I had high hopes that this would be a great show that was sorely lost in the shuffle of poor programming and critical opinion. Well, I wasn’t totally wrong. It’s indeed entertaining, and has some laughs to be had, but it’s not as accessible or as interesting as you might expect.
The synopsis goes a little something like this: high class criminal nutjob Gunter Vogler is shot in the head during a failed jewelry store heist. He amazingly survives and is given the face of the policemen he killed during the botched robbery as an attempt by the police force to sway Vogler into getting into the world of the criminal underground that he’s a part of. The main problem with this premise is that this man is our lead character, and there is almost no sympathy for him or any reason to want to follow his exploits. He constantly insults, betrays and harms almost everyone around him for his own personal gains, but yet the show is centered around him? I do think that the character is too extreme and it probably would have helped the show if they had softened him, even just a little bit. Hell, even Dexter was a sympathetic character, and he murdered people systematically.
It’s also a little bit more difficult to find humor in the show as compared to Sledge Hammer. In that show, all of the humor came from the lead character, and his inability to be a stable part of the police force because he tried too hard to be a Dirty Harry-type in the real world. Gunter Vogler just simply wants to go on being a sociopath, and everything that happens around him is very extreme, as a result. In my opinion, this show would have been (and still could be) a great fit for Adult Swim’s lineup. I can see people finding entertainment value in it, even more than myself. Eric Roberts and Eddie Izzard showing up in the cast for some great, funny moments certainly helps, but despite its time-slot problems, Bullet in the Face sinks because it doesn’t attempt to draw you in as strongly as you would want. Being turned off by your lead character doesn’t lead to a lot of hilarious hijinks either. So it’s somewhat funny, but mostly disappointing.
The video presentation on the DVD of Bullet in the Face is very good. Clean and clear and as good a picture as you could ask for on the format. No complaints there. The same goes for the audio selection, which comes in two channels: English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital. There’s not really much difference between the two. The 5.1 track doesn’t feature a whole lot of directionality. It just encompasses more speakers, and it’s a front-heavy presentation anyway. There are no subtitles on the disc and its sole extra is an audio commentary on each episode by writer and executive producer Alan Spencer.
And that’s it. Pretty short and sweet, like the show’s run itself. Bullet in the Face may garner some culty, hardcore fans, especially those of Alan Spencer’s work, but others may find it a bit too much for consumption. Despite it, I’d still say it’s worth a look, and the fact that Shout! Factory took the time to release it in the first place is saying something.
- Tim Salmons