Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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TV O.D. : The Kill Point

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 22, 2007

“Next time, send sandwiches…”

The surprisingly good reception the show has received thusfar has inspired me to check out the two-hour premiere of Spike TV’s new hostage drama, The Kill Point. Starring the always underappreciated John Leguizamo as the ex-Military Sergeant leading the bank heist, and Donnie “I Can Be Taken Seriously As an Actor Too, Mark!” Wahlberg as the negotiator, the series has gotten off to a fairly entertaining, if not entirely exceptional, start.

It’s kind of hard to go wrong with the bank heist formula–right from the start, you’re automatically working with every-second-counts tension, filled with solid tough-guy yelling conversations, and at least a couple great shootouts (of which there are two here in the pilot alone). What’s more, it’s easy to create clearly-defined, and often even real-time, timeframes for the action to take place in, as in tonight’s pilot episode when Leguizamo’s character (Code Name: “Mr. Wolf”) gives Wahlberg’s character a one-hour ultimatum to turn the bank’s electricity back on before he wastes his first hostage. The suspense is increasingly taut as Wahlberg deliberates if he should give Leguizamo the power, and Leguizamo wonders if he can justify a citizen’s execution. This just being the pilot, of course, Wahlberg cracks before Leguizamo does, but it’s obvious this won’t be the last time this type of situation comes up.

But while there have been at least a handful of heist flicks that have come to be recognized as classics–Dog Day Afternoon, The Inside Man, and my personal favorite, Heat–it’s a little harder to translate it to the TV format. ABC tried last year (sort of) with the rightfully cancelled The Nine, which took a bunch of one-dimensional characters and hoped that they would become interesting after the aftermath of a bank robbery, showing the robbery itself only in flashback, a little bit at a time. Risky move, and it didn’t really pay off–Tarantino somehow managed to get away with it in Reservoir Dogs, but generally, the after-effects are rarely as interesting as the heist itself.

Luckily, The Kill Point looks to begin and end with the heist itself, only taking the time for an Inside Man-style city montage before launching straight into the action, which lets up little over the course of the pilot’s 100 minutes. The lingering question, however, is if there’s eight hours worth of action to be had in a bank heist–after all, you can only have so many “Give in to My Demands!” “NO I DON’T THINK I WILL!!!” debates before the inherent tension begins to fade. It’s Wahlberg and Leguizamo’s show, no question, but The Kill Point will definitely need outside factors to play a part to keep things interesting.

Things look somewhat promising on that front so far. There’s Tobin “Jigsaw” Bell as the Senator father of one of the teenage girl hostages, who Leguizamo has independently contacted in order to help with his escape. There’s Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks‘ Bobby Briggs!) and some other girl stuck in a closet unbeknownedst to the robbers, and a gun planted by one of the hostages in a nearby flowerpot, eventually bound to play important variables. And then there’s the entire subject of the Iraq War, which Leguizamo and his men have recently returned from, none too happy about the situation. Somewhat ballsy for such a mindless entertainment show to take on such a hot subject, but it could get exploitative fairly quickly, so here’s hoping they don’t go too over the top with it.

Add in a stellar supporting cast–including three Wire alums, Michael K. Williams, JD Williams and Leo Fitzpatrick–and you’ve got a show that just might be worth keeping up with. Besides, they’ve yet to really properly explain the title, and don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch hours of this show just to hear the inevitable “Are you sure you really want to pass THE KILL POINT, Sarge?” moment.

One Response to “TV O.D. : The Kill Point”

  1. […] White House Link to Article iraq TV O.D. : The Kill Point » Posted at Intensities in Ten Suburbs on Sunday, July 22, 2007 TV O.D. : The Kill Point July 22nd, 2007 by Andrew Unterberger “Next time, send sandwiches…” The surprisingly good reception the show has received thusfar has inspired me to check out the two-hour premiere of Spike TV’s new hostage drama, The Kill Point View Entire Article » […]

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