Crime, Action, Noir & Comedy collide in writer Shane Black’s directorial debut.
When Harry, a petty thief scrounging his way through life in L.A; bungles a robbery, he accidentally strides into a backroom Hollywood casting call. Now inadvertently cast in a big budget production, he is sent for tutoring in the role by local P.I ‘Gay Perry’ but preparing for an unwanted film role is the least of Harry’s worries as he is caught in a whirlwind plot involving his childhood sweetheart, a Los Angeles set noir conspiracy & big action set pieces.
‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ is the directorial arrival of legendary screenwriter Shane Black, who famously sold his spec script for ‘Lethal Weapon’ for $125,00 at the tender age of 22, and reteamed with leading man Downey Jr on ‘Iron Man 3’. And if the action infused comedy and subversive nature of that blockbuster caught you by surprise it may not have done if you had caught this, which stands as a solid blueprint of Black’s style. Part buddy movie, part hardboiled noir comedy, this is a film that defies a single genre stamp, as it very often addresses the genre it’s playing with. One inspired gag pokes fun at action heroes’ unlikely survival rate, which sees Elvis and Lincoln making an appearance, all part of a sarcastic Harry monologue. And once Harry & Perry team up on the case, it almost seems the quick fire quips and postmodern dialogue comes so thick and fast that it really does warrant a repeat viewing to catch ever joke.
Entangled in a case that they soon find out is very real they both reluctantly work together dealing with murder, deceit, a pink haired girl, the disappearance of Harry’s childhood crush’s sister & bodies galore. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is fun, fast paced & in part told through voice over narration by our lead, which allows Black the opportunity to step aside from, and address with the audience, the usual action movie tropes that he typified in films such as Lethal Weapon & The Last Boy Scout.
Shot brilliantly and energetically by Black, the film offers up quick-witted star turns from Downey Jr, & Val Kilmer, as riotously sarcastic Perry Van Shrike, and both performances deserve as much credit as each other showing what great and charismatic leading men they both are. Michelle Monaghan also manages to put her stamp on a role that, in most movies, would play as a typically forgettable love interest.
Black, a fan of hardboiled noir fiction and an action cinema veteran, is clearly in his comfort zone here, and the heart and soul poured into the thick sharp dialogue comes across as a labour of love for him as a screen-writer. All of this adds up to what is a solid and uniquely post modern action movie that deserves attention & successfully picks the genre apart where others such as Last Action Hero (which Black had a hand in writing) failed. Thus with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black strikes a playful jab in Hollywood’s side. Long may he continue.
Hilarious, subversive & convoluted in the best possible way. Anyone who enjoys Downey Jr & loves their action movies with a self-knowing wink could do far worse than to check this gem out.