Bullet in the Face

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Bullet in the Face
Genre Dark comedy
Action
Noir
Created by Alan Spencer
Starring
Country of origin Canada
United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 6 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Alan Spencer
  • Bruce Hills
  • Michael Prupas
  • Jesse Prupas
  • Evi Regev
Camera setup Single camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
Broadcast
Original channel IFC
Original run August 16, 2012 (2012-08-16) – August 17, 2012 (2012-08-17)
External links
Official website

Bullet in the Face is a Canadian[1] dark comedy television series developed by Alan Spencer. It premiered on IFC on August 16, 2012. It follows an ex-con, Gunter Vogler, who is recruited into the police force when he is betrayed by his partner and lover.

Synopsis[edit]

The story is set in the neo-noir city of Brüteville, a dystopian city fought over by two vicious mob bosses, agoraphobic elitist Johann Tannhäuser (Eddie Izzard) and doltish Racken (Eric Roberts).

While robbing a jewelry store, Gunter Vogler (Max Williams), a sociopath and universally feared hitman, receives an order from his boss, Tannhäuser, to kill his partner and lover, Martine Mahler (Kate Kelton). Martine, however, complicates the situation when she tells him that she's pregnant with his child. When a police officer interrupts the robbery, Gunter enthusiastically kills the cop, but he himself is shot in the face by Martine.

Waking up in a hospital, Gunter finds himself under the care of the Brüteville Police, who have surgically grafted the face of the detective he killed in place of his own. The police seek to use Gunter's knowledge of the criminal underworld and thirst for vengeance to finally take out the elusive Tannhäuser, with Gunter posing as the deceased cop. Partnering up with the morally unshakable Lt. Karl Hagerman (Neil Napier), the two solve crimes while searching for Tannhäuser, including a series of apparent priest suicides and a teenaged murderer.

Characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

  • Max Williams as Gunter Vogler: A notoriously unstable and violent hitman, Gunter Vogler is based on comic book supervillains, such as the Joker.[2] He temporarily allies himself with the police in order to seek revenge for being betrayed.
  • Neil Napier as Lieutenant Karl Hagerman: Lt. Karl Hagerman is the opposite of Gunter Vogler: he's wimpy, emotional, introverted, and prone to several homoerotic gaffes. Vogler murdered every one of Hagerman's previous partners, but the two are forced to work together when Vogler receives a face transplant of Hagerman's last partner, who may have been his gay lover.
  • Jessica Steen as Commissioner Eva Braden: The local police commissioner, Eva Braden is overwhelmed by the violent gang wars in Brüteville. She recruits Gunter Vogler to fight evil with evil. She is sexually frustrated and unsuccessfully attempts to seduce both Hagerman's former partner and Gunter Vogler.
  • Kate Kelton as Martine Mahler: Martine Mahler was Gunter Vogler's partner and lover, before she betrayed him and shot him in the face. She is simultaneously having affairs with both Tannhäuser and Racken, whom she hopes to manipulate into a gang war against each other.

Recurring cast[edit]

  • Eddie Izzard as Johann Tannhäuser: A secretive, agoraphobic crime lord who favors chess. He sets up Gunter Vogler and Martine Mahler to kill each other, both of whom are assassins in his employ. Tannhäuser believes himself the father of Martine's baby and has big plans for the child... but not the mother.
  • Eric Roberts as Racken: A dimwitted crime lord who opposes Tannhäuser. Racken believes himself married to Martine Mahler, though she is actually conning him. Racken recruits Vogler, who he believes to be a dirty cop, after Vogler convinces Racken that there's a mole in his organization.

Production[edit]

The first three episodes were aired on August 16, 2012, followed by the remaining three episodes on August 17, 2012. Although the series is American, it is filmed in Montreal, Canada. Bullet in the Face is executive produced by creator Alan Spencer, alongside Michael Prupas, Bruce Hills, Jesse Prupas and Evi Regev and the production companies Just For Laughs Television and Muse Entertainment Enterprises.[3]

Influences include graphic novels, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, and film noir.[4] The series musical score was composed by James Gelfand. The theme song was composed and produced by AmA, a group whose members are Amanda Bauman and Patrick Doyle, with Bauman providing the vocals.

Critical reception[edit]

Bullet in the Face received mixed reviews, with a score of 57 out of 100 on Metacritic, only culled from four critics, with many polarized by the mix of violence and farce.[5] Positive reviews highlighted the wild originality and cult appeal, while more critical reviews focused on an uneven tone. The Boston Globe praised the series and its creator saying: "Now, with “Bullet in the Face,” Spencer conjures up the same cult sensibility of “Sledge Hammer!” and ushers it into the more politically incorrect and graphic world of 2010s America and cable TV. This is a show that wouldn’t have been made before Quentin Tarantino infused screen violence with wit... But there’s as much zany Mel Brooks in “Bullet in the Face” as there is Tarantino." [6] Jesse Tigges of Columbus Alive declared: "“Bullet in the Face” is, hands down, one of the strangest things I’ve ever watched." [7] The series garnered solid ratings for IFC, increasing their usual viewership.[8] As with Spencer's previous cult series, Bullet in the Face received critical reappraisal on DVD with many reviewers offering revisionist raves. DVD Talk proclaimed: "Spencer hits all the right notes here, crafting a cinematic experience that looks great and manages an excellent balance of comedy and action, with a healthy number of laugh-out-loud moments, thanks in large part to the wonderful dialogue."[9] Diane Werts of Newsday wrote: "Ultra-stylish, incredibly violent, it’s a touchstone of comic tone and meticulous production."[10]

Awards[edit]

Neil Napier received a nomination for "Outstanding Male Performance" for his portrayal of Lieutenant Karl Hagerman in "Bullet in the Face" from the 2013 ACTRA Awards. [11]

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "Meet Gunter Vogler"[12] Erik Canuel Alan Spencer August 16, 2012 (2012-08-16)
Gunter Vogler, a vicious criminal, is betrayed and left for dead, only to be recruited by the police, who want to use him against the mob. Given a badge and authority, Vogler becomes even more dangerous and out of control.
2 "Angel of Death"[13] Erik Canuel Alan Spencer August 16, 2012 (2012-08-16)
Vogler and Hagerman investigate a series of apparent suicides by priests, uncovering a conspiracy involving a dentist/hitman and gangsters who are hiding out in churches.
3 "Drug of Choice"[14] Erik Canuel Alan Spencer August 16, 2012 (2012-08-16)
A teenager goes on a violent rampage, killing several people, impressing Vogler. Vogler encourages the boy to embrace his dark side, but then must defuse a hostage situation at the school, when it turns out that a new drug is the cause of the violence in the city. Vogler is shot in the face again, during the hostage crisis, driving him even further in madness.
4 "Kiss Me Thrice"[15] Erik Canuel Alan Spencer August 17, 2012 (2012-08-17)
Vogler confronts Racken, exposes some dirty cops, and attempts to figure out Martine's plans. Martine has convinced Tannhäuser, Racken, and Vogler that each man is the father of her baby, and has even married Racken, while living under a false identity. More curious than anything else, Vogler does not expose Martine to Racken.
5 "The World Stage"[16] Erik Canuel Alan Spencer August 17, 2012 (2012-08-17)
Vogler and Hagerman fight a group of prostitutes who are knocking off gangsters and inflaming tensions in the underworld. Racken and Tannhäuser, convinced that each other are behind the attacks, declare war on each other, threatening to destroy the entire city.
6 "Cradle to Grave"[17] Erik Canuel Alan Spencer August 17, 2012 (2012-08-17)
Everyone converges on the hospital in which Martine is giving birth. Martine reveals that she's been playing all sides against each other, so that she can take control of the underworld. Her pregnancy is revealed to have been a ruse, and she pulls out a submachine gun from the prosthetic belly, killing Racken and his men. While Martine prepares to kill Gunter once again, a bomb planted by Tannhäuser's men counts down to zero. The show fades to black on that cliffhanger.

Themes[edit]

Like creator Alan Spencer's other cult television show Sledge Hammer!, Bullet in the Face is largely a parody of various genres, most prominently film noir and European action films like those by director Luc Besson. Many characters are direct parodies of certain archetypes.

DVD release[edit]

The entire series was released on DVD in the U.S. and Canada by Shout Factory with commentary provided by Alan Spencer. A Blu-ray release from Beyond Home Entertainment was also released for foreign regions.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bullet in the Face (TV Series 2012– ) - IMDb
  2. ^ Spencer, Alan. "Alan Spencer takes us behind the scenes of Bullet in the Face". Bullet in the Face Blog. IFC. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Breaking News - IFC's Original Scripted Comedy, "Bullet in the Face," Begins Production in Montreal". TheFutonCritic.com. 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  4. ^ "The Influences Behind Bullet in the Face". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Bullet in the Face". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "IFC’s ‘Bullet in the Face’: Over-the-top spoofery". 
  7. ^ "TV review: Bullet in the Face". 
  8. ^ "Weekend Cable Ratings". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Bullet In The Face: The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  10. ^ "TV on DVD: 'Bullet in the Face'". 
  11. ^ "ACTRA Press Release". 
  12. ^ "Episode 1: Meet Gunter Vogler". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Episode 2: Angel of Death". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Episode 3: Drug of Choice". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Episode 4: Kiss Me Thrice". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "Episode 5: The World Stage". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "Episode 6: Cradle to Grave". IFC. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 

External links[edit]