Ever since the joint success of Iron Man and Tropic Thunder in 2008, Robert Downey Jr has become one of the biggest actors in the industry but whilst those films were great and provided a good comeback, his comeback should have happened three years previously with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. All the tropes we now associate with Downey got their start in this film and, with Shane Black writing and directing, we have a brilliantly done thriller.
The film focuses on Harry Lockgart a thief whinwnders into an audition fleeing from the police after his partner is killed. Because his real feelings match those in the script he’s reading he gets invited to LA to do tests for the role. To prepare him the studio gives him detectice lessons from professional investigator Pery. During one of these they stumble onto a murder plot which gets more conlicatmplicated as Harry reconnects with a friend of his from back home, Harmony Lane, an aspiring actress who’s sister has just died. As the film goes on, the two cases become more linked, leading into a massive conspiracy regarding powerful individuals in LA and their desire to maintain their wealth. One thing I love about the film is how is both subverts and celebrates the tropes of film noir. Throughout the film we get narration making fun of all the tropes, pointing out how they never happen in real life and how unrealistic they are whilst taking advantage of every single one of them. It’s clear that Shane Black loves these tropes and is having a lot of fun with them. This is mainly seen in the script which is one of the best out to film. The dialogue is frequently hilarious, aided by the over the top situations that the characters find themselves in and the mystery elements of the film are handled brilliantly. All of the twists and turns of the plot feel really natural, a lot of the solutions being presented to the audience right at the start but the dialogue lulls us into a false sense of security, making us think they won’t be going that way to subvert all the tropes before pulling the rug out from under us, part of the reason why I say Black loves the traditional film noir tropes. All the character stuff is great. But I’ll get more into that when I talk about the acting and the whole seedy environment the film creates and the dark underbelly of the film industry and the way people are treated works really well in creating a great environment for the film.
The performances are strong, across the board in particular Riber Downey Jr as Harry. He brilliantly shows the out of his depth nature of the character and his reactions to everything in the film feel really batural. He also does a great job being the butt of all the jokes in the film, everything bad that could happen to the character happening to him, he also brilliantly shows the stupidity of the character, especially him thinkin that’s he’s making the right decisions when he’s actually making things a lot worse. There’s also a tender side to the character shown through the relationship with Harmony, played brilliantly by Michelle Monaghan. Her feelings towards Harry throughout the film feel really batural as they devlop, from anger to caring, it all works. She also does a great job showing how women are treated I Hollywood, only getting work because she’s younger and better looking, having to use sex appeal to even get noticed, it adds to the whole trend of the fil that the film industry disrespects women and and the need to respect women more for their intelligence and resourcefulness and Monaghan does a great job showing this nature. She also does good work showing her love for her sister and the damage the lies she told and the treatment her sister faced has done. Rounding., out the main cast is Val Kilmer as Perry. He brilliantly shows the more weary nature of the character and the cynical side. Not believing all the events could be as ridiculous as they were, wanting a more rational explanation but when that doesn’t happen his resolve to make very thing works is brilliantly shown. He also gets a lot of the drier comedy in the film and he delivers it well. In regards to the character being gay, they did make a big deal if it but it works for the style and it’s the reactions of everyone else that are shown to be out of line, him even using them to get out of sticky situation so, which adds a bit more depth to the character with how used to homophobia he is. It’s a strong cast all round, even the one scene performers getting some great moments.
On a technical level, the fil works really well. The direction adds to the more alien nature of Los Angeles puttinnus more in Harry’s shoes. The editing meanwhile adds to the comedic style of the film, making everything fast enough to keep the mystery working well and the laughs coming. Black also does after job in the action scenes, all of them adding to the characters, along with the way the narration by Harry is presented throughout the film.
Overall, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a great film. The script and the performances are top notch, along with the direction, it’s just a great time and this should have been the film to truly put Robert Downey Jr back in the mainstream and is why I was so glad when ShaneBlack was hired to do Iron Man 3.
My Rating: 5/5