🇫🇮 🇧🇪 BULLETS 🇧🇪 🇫🇮
Bullets (2018) is a Finnish-Belgian crime, drama, thriller on All4 Walter Presents U.K. 10 x 45 min episodes.
Creators: Antii Pesonen & Minna Virtanen
Writers: Antii Pesonen, Minna Virtanen, Matti Laine & Kirsi Vikman
Director: Pete Riski
Cinematographers: Jean-Noël Mustonen, Rauno Ronkainen & Max Smeds (Director of Photography)
Music: Juri Seppa
“When an ex-terrorist believed to be dead resurfaces in Helsinki, Intelligence Agency officer Mari Saari goes undercover to befriend her and extract information.”
Krista Kosonen as Mari Saari
Sibel Kekilli as Madina Taburova
Tommi Korpela as Tommi Viita
Jani Volanen as Jaska Lahti
Leo Honkonen as Vili Porkaa
Dragomir Mrsic as Juri Borodin
Adra Al-Aliáyat as Alba Kavén
Outi Mäenpää as Toumi
Nika Savolainen as Zara
Jasmin Mora as Roza Mazri
Sherwan Haji as Sayid
Koen De Bouw as Oligarch
Bullets was filmed in Finland, Belgium and Georgia.
I was looking forward to watching Bullets after watching the trailer, the premise was appealing. Would this be a show working an idea differently? The cast looked very promising indeed.
Perhaps it is best to start with the features of Bullets that I did like and that worked well for me and then move on to some of the issues.
I absolutely loved the flashbacks in Madina’s story. Her backstory is beautifully filmed and is almost completely dialogue-free. So much of her memories as shown relay a feeling, love, tragedy on a personal level. The acting in these scenes was outstanding for Sibel Kekilli and Sherwan Haji. These flashbacks were easy to settle into because of the contrast of location, colour palette and camerawork. Stunning! If the rest of this show had reached these heights I would have been incredibly impressed.
Mari’s backstory is also drip-fed into the storyline reasonably effectively again with interesting camerawork used in the flashbacks.
The individual performances as a whole really impressed me. The whole cast including the leads and the supporting cast does an admirable job, sometimes with not the best material.
I liked the costuming decisions made in this show, and visually it is often impressive. The music was extremely good and very effective, especially in conjuring up emotion.
My issues with Bullets centre on a few areas. Now I do love a slow burn TV show but this wasn’t just slow, it was often glacial. Looking back there are episodes where very little seemed to move the story forwards or inform our understanding of characters. Some of this no doubt is because it was written with a season 2 in mind (which has not happened). Summary: there are big pacing issues in Bullets.
The main antagonist (Juri) has his motivation tacked on almost as an afterthought and so late that it sets up no inner conflict with the viewer as to the morality of his actions. Giving him a photo to look at (very briefly) and then a belated “flashback” just doesn’t cut the mustard. More time could have been spent on this and less on whatever else was supposed to be going on. We understand as viewers that investigations stall, but this isn’t real life.
The reasons for the ease of recruitment are sound but even here there’s a sense that the writers are over-egging the pudding and no genuine radicalisation shown which works as a plot point but not for a sense of realism. One cannot help but compare this to Caliphate and its effectiveness as drama.
We have a slight reworking of the oh so very tired trope of the male cop with marital problems and a teenage daughter (what is it with daughters in these shows?). Please make it stop!
Returning to Mari’s backstory and who she is, my main issue here is that there is almost no sense of conflict within her before she suddenly confronts her boss about “things”. We know there is something odd but she is something of a cold fish. For a protagonist to truly elicit our sympathy we do need to be shown something of their mental state and conflicts. Perhaps this was because the writers wanted most of our sympathies to go to Madina…
I always consider myself quite good at suspending disbelief but at times in Bullets even I failed and this is because the plot holes and issues raised are not consistent with the scenario. Little things such as the fact that Russians speak in Russian to each other, not for some inexplicable reason English!
Avoiding spoilers but there is one horrendous event not far from the final denouement and you would think, from the reaction of characters that nothing had actually happened. The pacing towards the denouement is very good however I found the denouement itself quite cliché and curiously unaffecting. Madina’s flashbacks were the most emotionally affecting throughout.
To conclude, I came away from watching Bullets with a feeling of unfulfilled potential. There are truly excellent aspects of this show but there is also a definite “style over substance” aftertaste. I do think that this show could have been made with fewer episodes and that it would have been far better for it.
Bullets received 2 Kultainen Venla award nominations (2019) Best Actress for Krista Kosonen and Drama Programme
For those who are fans of Nordic/Scandi TV shows and films there is a great affiliated Facebook Page:
This online publication also has its own Facebook Page with a wide variety of content:
More TV Reviews:
More Non-Spoiler Reviews:
More Spoiler Reviews:
More Film Reviews: