Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 72%
Overall Rating
Ranked #629
...out of 9,910 movies
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Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.
Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer
Michelle Monaghan
Michelle Monaghan
Corbin Bernsen
Corbin Bernsen
Dash Mihok
Dash Mihok
Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 10, 2005
Shane Black use to own Hollywood. He is responsible for some of the greatest action films of the 1980's and 1990's, and he is one of those rare writers who has the ability to churn out hit after hit after hit, consecutively. "Lethal Weapon" would arguably be listed as one of the ten greatest action films in cinema history; "The Monster Squad" is one of my favorite horror films from the 1980's directed by the great Fred Dekker; "The Last Boy Scout" was a phenomenal success starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans; and, "The Long Kiss Goodnight" remains one of the most underrated and under-appreciated action films ever released, starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. All of these films display Shane Black's incredible talent for blending tongue-in-cheek humor, non-stop thrills, and human drama into one effortless package. No one does it better. Alas, just as he was at the top of his creative game, he disappeared in 1997, not to re-emerge until 2005 with the film I about to review, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", which he also directed. This film marks Shane Black's return to the Hollywood mainstream, financed entirely by Joel Silver and featuring a cast of actors who have seemed to be less and less excited about their jobs. When was the last time you remember Robert Downey, Jr. looking anything but worn down? When was the last time Val Kilmer had anything meaningful to do on screen, with the exception of "Wonderland"? This is a film that gives not only Shane Black a second chance, but also the stars of the film. And, oh, what a film it is.

In his best performance since "Chaplin", Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Harry Lockhart, a small-time crook who is accidentally discovered by a producer, and is recruited as a possible lead for a forthcoming cop picture. While in town, Harry meets former childhood friend Harmony (Michelle Monaghan) and wants desperately to get back with her. He is also introduced to Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), a private investigator who is suppose to teach Harry how to act like a cop, even going so far as to take him along on a stakeout at a local cabin. Soon, however, people start to die and Harry, Gay, and Harmony must team-up to find out exactly what is going on in Hollywood. The film is told in a back-and-forth style that is narrated by Robert Downey, Jr. in a way that suggests he is actually talking to we, the audience. He instructs characters to move on and off screen, he breaks away from the film for bits of fancy, and he stops the film in mid-reel to back up and re-explain situations. It might seem like it has been done before, but I assure you it has never been done this well. Shane Black was obviously going for this "crime novel" feeling that is even brought up in the film, and he manages to strike the right chords in achieving this. I would suspect that, had Hollywood known about Shane Black's abilities as a director, he probably would have directed that last three films that he penned. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is one of the best action films to come along in a long while.

The premise and storyline are all over the place. Twists are continually happening and we never know quite what to expect. Just when we think someone is dead, we hear a knock at the front door, and there they are again. Just when we think the bad guys have been killed, we discover that they were the wrong bad guys. Deep down, we know whom the villain is from the beginning, but we have one hell of a fun ride watching Downey and Kilmer come to the same conclusion. The aspect of the film I most enjoyed was the dark comedy approach to a lot of the picture, and even just the dark, in general. There is a side-plot of pedophilia that comes at us full force at the end of the film with Kilmer paying a visit to a sick old man on his death bed. Some might find the scene unnecessary, but isn't that really what we want to see - a pedophile getting some justice dealt to him? There is also some extraordinarily dark comedy involving a girl who is found in Downey's shower and then tossed off a building, barely missing a dumpster. This leads directly to Downey and Kilmer sharing an on-screen kiss, rivaling the one seen in "In & Out" by Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was two hours of riotous entertainment the likes of which I haven't seen in a hell of a long time. I have never had this much fun sitting through a movie.

In terms of performances, Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer are back, back, back. Neither actor has had this much fun with a role in ages and ages. Downey seems to be dripping with enthusiasm here and he looks fifteen years younger than he did in "Gothika". No more bags under the eyes. No more sagging cheeks. He appears to be off the smack and on his A-game. No more supporting roles for this guy - "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" proves he can still carry a picture. And, Val Kilmer - talk about one hell of a hilarious supporting performance. He hits all the right notes as Gay Perry and delivers his dialogue with a snap and a sarcasm that few, if any, could match. This role seems to have been written for Kilmer because it plays to each and every one of his skills. I guess the chemistry between Downey and Kilmer is what makes the film work so well. This is far from a buddy-cop film, but they have that kind of connection - kind and like the Felix and Oscar of the police world. Plus, I have to five kudos to Shane Black for casting the underused and always amusing Corbin Bernsen in another mainstream role. He doesn't have much to do here, but he sure does look happy doing it. Maybe this is a sign that he might be crawling back onto the scene.

In conclusion, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was the most entertaining film I have seen this year. It wasn't the best I have seen, but it might manage to sneak up into my top ten somewhere. I hope this film goes wide so more moviegoers will get a chance to have one hell of an entertaining time at the movies. "The Fog" isn't entertaining. "Doom" sure as hell isn't entertaining. They are mindless action with piss-poor dialogue and even worse action. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is the perfect action film, like "Lethal Weapon" and "The Long Kiss Goodnight". We care about the characters. We stay glued to the action on screen. We laugh our collective asses off. Shane Black is the master of the American action film, and there is no equal on the scene today. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is his valiant return to the genre that he left many years ago, and he does so in an astonishing way. I love, love, loved this film and am absolutely certain that you will also, once it comes around your way.

Tristan #1: Tristan - added 03/07/2008, 02:01 PM
Odd that I haven't commented on this one. Without a doubt, one of the best movies I've ever seen. I'm not sure what else to say about it, other than it deserved more praise than it received, and RD Jr is perfect in it. I could ramble on forever, but I'll spare you all my favourite lines and scenes by simply saying "buy this fucking movie". 10/10
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 04/26/2009, 04:28 PM
This was a real enjoyable movie to watch, it's sad on how underrated it is. 10/10
Optimus Prime #3: Optimus Prime - added 10/09/2009, 04:11 PM
Ditto on the previous comments... I laughed pretty much the whole way through this. 10/10
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 12/19/2009, 06:40 AM
To this day I can't believe that this one has gone so unrecognized as the classic it undoubtedly is.
"Thank God you had a gun in there; for a second there I thought it was, like, a gay thing... Like, somehow you guys could do that. Sorry."
Fucking classic.
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