Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Retro Review - The Kill Point

(Left to Right:)
Jeremy Davidson, Leo Fitzpatrick, John Leguizamo,
JD Williams & Frank Grillo in 'The Kill Point'.
I recently went through my DVD set of The Kill Point, a 2007 miniseries produced by Spike TV, the first drama of its kind to be produced by the network.

I was originally drawn to check out the show due to comparisons with 24 and The Wire; and although both of these comparisons are somewhat tenuous I can see why both were made and ultimately I’m glad they were, otherwise I may never have found the series.

The 24 comparison clearly came about due to the fact that the action is concentrated over a number of hours rather than a vast amount of time. The comparison to The Wire I can only assume is as a result of the two shows sharing so many cast members (Michael Hyatt, Leo Fitzpatrick, JD Williams & Michael K. Williams all appear in major roles) although The Kill Point is somewhat of a slow build in terms of storytelling but by no means in the same brilliantly deft way The Wire did it.

The two main characters in the show are played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, who ironically would team up a year later to play partners rather than adversaries in the poorly received Pacino-De Niro movie Righteous Kill.

Here though Leguizamo and Wahlberg are on opposite sides of the law and prove to be formidable adversaries to each other.

The basic premise of the show is that Leguizamo and members of his former platoon who served together in Iraq, return from the war and disillusioned with life and how they are treated attempt to pull off a huge bank robbery.

The robbery goes wrong though and the five men end up barricaded in the bank with several hostages, events then play out over the multi-day negotiations between Leguizamo’s Mr. Wolf and Wahlberg’s negotiator Horst Cali.

All the bank robbers take names from an animal in a rather lamer version of the colour monikers the characters in Reservoir Dogs have.

Here we have Mr. Wolf, Mr. Rabbit (Jeremy Davidson), Mr. Pig (Prison Break & The Shield’s Frank Grillo), Mr. Mouse (Fitzpatrick) and Mr. Cat (JD Williams).

The Kill Point runs over eight episodes and is supremely tense; without giving too many spoilers away there are several escape attempts, numerous fractured relationships, dissension between the robbers and the odd moment of comedy.

The characters are somewhat clichéd, a criticism that has been aimed at the show, but there are plenty of interesting developments along the way that keep The Kill Point from treading too far into well-trodden territory.

Cali’s penchant for the correct use of grammar is a nice source of comedy during the first few episodes, the relationship between Wolf and Cali also develops well as the series progresses, culminating in a moment of respect during their final showdown that echoes the confrontation their two future co-stars had at the end of Heat.

The production value of the show isn’t huge but as most of the drama stems from interaction between the characters rather than explosions and gun fights that doesn’t tend to hurt the show too much.

The majority of the bullets don’t tend to fly until the finale, after the initial bank robbery obviously – which again has echoes of Heat, but the tension and drama builds very satisfyingly to the finale so when we finally do end in a crescendo of bullets and bloodshed you find yourself emotionally invested in these men even if they are the ‘villains’.

Leguizamo is the star of the show getting two great monologues about the war for the TV cameras surrounding the bank that he really sinks his teeth into.

In addition to both leads being strong, the supporting cast are equally as impressive, especially the bank robbers.

Frank Grillo as Mr. Pig gets the chance to bring more to the table than the rather one note characters he played on The Shield and Prison Break. The real breakout star though is relative unknown Jeremy Davidson as Mr. Rabbit, whose war damage gradually leads to him becoming more and more volatile.

Michael K. Williams gets at least one philosophical monologue per episode as he waxes lyrical to his spotter, Williams is essentially just playing Omar Little on the right side of the law though as his words sound eerily familiar to those of everyone’s favourite stick-up artist.

There are faults with the show sure, but as a pretty low key series this is pleasantly surprising and I was hooked and managed to blitz through the DVD in no time, bringing back memories of how I went through the original seasons of Lost and 24 on DVD, and if that’s not a ringing endorsement then I don’t know what is.

Sadly The Kill Point was never brought back for a second run by Spike, though how they would have logically done that anyway I’m unsure of, but if you’re looking for a DVD drama to get stuck into that will only steal 8 hours of your time rather than say 24 then this would be a great addition to anyone’s library.

The Kill Point is currently available on DVD (£6.99 at amazon and play)


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