I recently got around to watching a film I had recorded form TV a few weeks ago, I had missed it at the cinema and never bothered renting the DVD. Now I have seen it the big question is why haven’t I seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang before? The most likely answer is the ridicules title, but having seen the film it is so ridicules (in a good way) that it needs a silly title.
Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr) is a petty crook who stumbles into acting (literally). Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) is a private detective with a sideline in teaching actors how to play detectives. Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) is a failing actress. They are all at a party hosted by actor turned mogul Harlan Dexter (Corbin Bernsen). Following the party dead bodies start appearing in a series of events that Harry and Perry don’t understand but can’t get away from. All this is held together by a voiceover from Downey Jr that frequently stops and rewinds the action to retell something he has missed out or to explain something that may be important later. It really shouldn’t work but for some reason it does.
The film is fast paced and full of very dark humour. The chemistry between Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr is excellent and they aren’t afraid of making fun of themselves and their screen personas. Michelle Monaghan, who is a vastly underrated and underused actress provides fantastic support for them. The story carefully plays with and even deconstructs the conventions of Film Noir and pulp literature making the film far more intelligent then its goofball appearance. Directed by Shane Black, his first and so far only attempt at directing but his real credentials are in writing. He was responsible for action comedies including Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight. On the evidence of this film I would like to see him direct again, unfortunately the film didn’t perform well at the box-office barely making back its modest budget.
Also take a look at the great James Bond inspired (like the movies title) title sequence: