Refreshing to see that the actual event depictions are not portrayed as overly cliché exaggerations.
U Want Me 2 Kill Him?
If you were asked to do something unthinkable and told that one act would benefit a great number of people, would you do it? If it was for the “greater good” would that make the act somewhat justifiable? That well describes how protagonist, Mark, being questioned by police, feels in the opening scene of the Andrew Douglas directed thriller U Want Me 2 Kill Him?, a drama based on events that occurred in 2003 in the UK. The Vanity Fair article released a couple of years after the incident occurs describes in detail the shocking events that took place. After reading both the article and viewing the film, I was astounded and in disbelief at the lengths to which an individual would go to gain the affections of another person.
This is the vivid picture that Andrew Douglas paints as he goes back in time and retells the true story of a troubled teen looking for friendship who becomes the unsuspecting victim in a tangled web of lies and deceit. 16-year-old Mark is an average teenager, he lives with both parents, has no trouble dating , excels at sports and is getting by relatively well with his schoolwork. However, behind closed doors, Mark leads a different life. Spending much of his time cooped up in his bedroom on internet chat rooms, where he encounters some interesting people. People he knows he would not associate with in real life but who, in the virtual world, garner his friendship. Mark develops a serious online relationship with a girl named Rachel who, along with her possessive and abusive boyfriend, are in the witness protection program. Mark and Rachel love each other but and have a deep friendship, so when Rachel asks Mark to look out for her younger brother, John, who attends the same school as Mark, he agrees. Over time, Rachel and Mark’s online fling brings them closer together though they have never actually met, and ultimately this leads to Rachel’s death at the hands of her boyfriend who grows increasingly jealous of their relationship.
After her death, Mark and John grow closer and an unlikely friendship develops. Though they spend a lot of time together and seemingly get along it is clear that in any other situation these two boys would not strike up a friendship. Mark’s outgoing, confident demeanor does not quite match John’s withdrawn, introverted self. What brings them closer is in fact their deep love for Rachel and hatred for the one who took her away from them, and their insatiable need to avenge her death. It is this need that ultimately blinds Mark to the fact that John is not the friend that he appears. The death of Rachel is secondary to a bigger issue, one that Mark fails to realize. His friend is more manipulative than he first thought, and Mark learns John’s true motivations and priorities.
Frequently discussing the topic of Rachel’s death and his need for revenge in online chatrooms, Mark finds himself the target of Rachel’s boyfriend, and soon piques the interest of the British secret service. The authorities enlist Mark’s help in preventing a crime with large-scale casualties, and he’s faced with the serious dilemma of choosing between the good of many and the good of one.
U Want Me 2 Kill Him? succeeds in not only being a gripping drama but also magnifies the harrowing dangers that lie behind the screen of a computer. While based on a true story, it is refreshing to see that the events depicted are not portrayed as overly cliché exaggerations, nor is the message conveyed as a watered down version of the truth. Both Jamie Blackley and Toby Regbo deliver engaging portrayals of Mark and John. Douglas gives us a film which serves as an excellent character study, reminiscent of the film Primal Fear. Both contain characters whose boyish innocence plays to their manipulative advantage. The film is thought provoking and presents the sort of moral ambiguity that makes fact-based drama so intriguing.
Does being able to identify with these characters make their actions throughout the film any more justifiable? That’s up to the viewer, but one clear takeaway is a modern lesson in Internet use. Choosing our friends in real life is a gamble, choosing them online can be even more so. The real fear evoked by Douglas’s film and the true events it’s based on, is that betrayal by those we trust can and does happen.