Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
- Shane Black
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is a no-good thief who, in the midst of a chase, ends up in a room where a movie audition is taking place. He is thought to be an actor and, altered by the circumstances, plays along giving a hell of a performance. Next stop: Hollywood. The producers of the movie in question assign him to Detective Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) to research for the part, while he reunites with an old acquaintance who is now an aspiring actress, Harmony (Michelle Monaghan). The three of them soon find themselves in the midst of a real-life dangerous mystery.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one twisted film noir (based partly in a novel by Brett Halliday). And I use the word “twisted” here not as a reference to its craziness (of which there is plenty), but to the fact that it’s not a conventional genre movie, but one with a twist. Shane Black knows all about this kind of movies, so he plays with the genre and turns it upside down, crossing the line between being a mystery and a satire. This combination of genres does not always work (it’s difficult to understand what the movie wants to be at times), but it’s nonetheless captivating and it mostly pays off.
Harry provides the narration of the movie in clever voice-overs. Harry knows he’s talking to a movie audience, so he feels free to discuss current events, shed useful information, mock his own movie or plain rewind it when he feels like it. It is an audacious device, if not a newbie, and it works like wonders. That said, I would have certainly liked more of it, since it disappears for large chunks of the movie.
The murder mystery and the trouble our leading characters get into is also a lot of fun. I got confused more often than not, but that’s common with this kind of plots. It’s not until the third act that they, and we, start to put the pieces together and everything starts coming to shape. Before that, most of what happens is incomprehensible, if entertaining.
Downey Jr. is a hoot as Harry. It’s interesting to note that his narration has nothing to do with the character we see on-screen all the time (mostly shy and scared), which gives him a three-dimensionality that I certainly thanked. Kilmer is also having a lot of fun playing a gay character with the best lines of the movie yet never falling into cliché despite a lot of funny gay puns directed at him. Great work there. And Michelle Monaghan turns out to be a real find. She’s sexy, vulnerable and lovable all at the same time. I certainly look forward to seeing more of her on the big screen.
Michael Barrett’s cinematography and John Ottman’s score help a lot in giving the movie the classic atmosphere inherent to the genre.
“No, knee-deep in pussy. I just love the name so much I can’t get rid of it.”
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