A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Sixteen-year-old Mark (Jamie Blackley) sits in a cold interrogation room in the opening scenes of "U Want Me 2 Kill Him?" and is asked why he stabbed John in the alley. Mark answers, "For the greater good." Based on a true story, which dominated British tabloids in 2003, resulting in a groundbreaking legal case (and inspiring an opera), "U Want Me 2 Kill Him?" takes us through how Mark arrived at that particular creepy answer. The facts of the case almost beggar belief, and were told, in full, in a 2005 Vanity Fair article by Judy Bachrach. The film assumes we do not know the story. Director Andrew Douglas, who helmed the "Amityville Horror" remake in 2005, and screenwriter Mike Walden, have chosen to structure the film like a typical thriller police procedural, with a jumbled chronology and a third-act reveal when the truth comes out. It's effective, in its way, and the acting is excellent, across the board. But "U Want Me 2 Kill Him" side-steps the real fascination with the story, its real guts, which is: Why?
Criminal duos are endlessly interesting due to the psychological questions they bring up: Would either of the individuals have acted alone? Would Macbeth have done what he did if he hadn't had his wife whispering in his ear to "man up"? Would Leopold and Loeb have ever committed that crime by themselves? What is in the alchemy of the respective pairings that created this murderous third? Cinema loves its deadly duos, from "Bonnie and Clyde," to "Heavenly Creatures," to "Gun Crazy," to "Don't Deliver Us From Evil", the list goes on forever. The pairing in "U Want Me 2 Kill Him?" is different in many important ways, mainly because Mark is unaware that he is being played. He was a dupe, a fool of a much more cunning individual. What happened to Mark that made him open to the whispered sinister suggestion, what was in him (or not in him) that made him blindly accept everything at face value?
Mark lives with his parents in Manchester. He goes to school, he's popular, and he has big vague dreams of doing something that nobody has done before ("like create the Internet.") His parents are nicely drawn individuals, the father who lifts weights and tells his son to be "his own Master", while the mother compulsively buys lottery tickets every week. Meanwhile, Mark has a whole world they do not know about. Every night he sexy-chats online with a girl he has never met, a pretty blonde named Rachel (Jaime Winstone). Not only is Rachel great at dirty talk, she is also (and this seems to be the most attractive part to Mark) a damsel in distress. She is afraid of her violent boyfriend Kevin (Mingus Johnston). She has secrets. She also happens to have a little brother who goes to school with Mark, a geeky weird kid named John (Toby Regbo). John gets bullied. Rachel pleads with Mark to look out for him.
Mark and John, somewhat improbably, become friends, after Mark beats up some of the bullies. The two hang out, John opens up to Mark about all of his problems, how worried he is about his sister Rachel, how much he hates how he is treated at school. Through John, Mark learns more about his mysterious night-time Internet friend, Rachel. Her boyfriend is in the witness protection program, she has cut ties with the family, everyone is afraid she is in danger. Ominously, Rachel stops contacting Mark. When Mark confronts John about this, John tearfully tells him that Rachel is dead, probably murdered by Kevin.