Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Robert Downey Jr. Rocks
In This Clever Post-noir Gem

- Shane Black has been a part of some of the more creative action films of recent years, writing the Lethal Weapon films and Last Action Hero (1993) - even acting in Predator (1987). Black is back in 2005 writing another unique film, only this time also in the director's chair, with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - a neo black romantic comedy noir action spoof. Um.... Yeah!

Distinctly original yet also familiar in many ways, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is dark and thrilling yet also uproariously funny - it really should be called "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Laugh Laugh."

Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is the perfect example of the movie man who is stuck in an unusual and difficult situation (and he will tell you as much, he is the film's narrator - he will also tell you to shut up and deal with that). Harry is a thief turned actor turned private detective - well, o.k., not officially but that's how things certainly work out - but he is not cut out for any of those professions. Naïve, completely out of his element and never finishing anything he starts, Harry is a perfect failure. Harry is also performed to perfection by Robert Downey Jr. With a quirky brand of charisma, likable disposition and absolutely hilarious line-deliveries, Downey Jr. brings his character to life - all the while lighting up the screen and stealing every scene.

Harry might be stuck in a bad situation, but luckily for him, he is not going it alone. Running into his high-school sweetheart Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), who is anything but harmonious, Harry becomes involved with her – only…. not in the way that he hoped. Monaghan is stunningly good here in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as Harmony, giving a lively performance that is probably her best ever.

Also helping out Harry is Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), a tough professional private detective - and, if you could not figure it out, Perry is gay, and for no other reason than to fit in a bunch of gay jokes into the film. Kilmer plays Perry and, while he does have flashes of greatness here and there throughout the film, ends up in cinematic mediocre-land overall.

Filmed at a snappy pace with slick style and 4th wall-breaking charm, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang could not have been put together any better. Shane Black does an excellent job switching from funny to serious in the film; bringing in a lot of film noir elements but offering a truly unique product in the end. The tone can switch in the blink of an eye, but it works - no sweat. Like many films noir, the story in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is character-centered but convoluted and stretched out a bit thin with almost too many things going on at once. However, everything works out in the end because of how hilarious the dialogue is and how everything is cleverly presented.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a real gem with everything working for it: a hilarious yet dark script, a great visual style and an unforgettable performance by Robert Downey Jr. that holds the film together.

CBC Rating: 9/10

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