CRIMEWATCH: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Writer-Director Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) is a dark comedy with a strong noir edge about a murder mystery being pursued by a gay private investigator, a thief mistaken as an actor and his childhood love interest. Though this movie may be enjoyable to the casual audience, it is especially appealing to film buffs who will find great pleasure in this as it takes the conventions you’ve come to expect and twists them around to great comedic effect.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang follows a somewhat generic murder-mystery plot, but infuses it with genre defying dark comedy at crucial moments to steer the film into unexpected territory with the comedy forming to the point of perfection and hitting its mark every time.
While the comedy and direction/cinematography stop the movie from being a true hard boiled noir, all the style is still there. The film has a great grasp of the noir style, with a lot of darkly lit sets, many washed over with heavy color as neo-noirs often do. The music is also excellently noir and is impressive how the often serious music manages to avoid clashing with the comedic moments that occur simultaneously. The score is all great and genre fitting, that is until the end credits where they used a horribly unfitting song. I’m one to usually read through the credits of a film if I like it, and the song choice stopped me from doing so. This isn’t a bad mark on the film itself, just a poor decision from the soundtrack department which up until that point had been so great.
The two leads are great. Robert Downey Jr as Harry Lockhart and Val Kilmer as Gay Perry are both terrific. Each character is well formed, and though the characters never take on the buddy cop formula, they do have good back and forth onscreen chemistry which makes the comedy work that much better. The excellent comedic writing is pulled off flawlessly by these two. The female lead, Harmony Lane played by Michelle Monaghan, is a different story however. The actress did a fine job, but the writing of the character does not work to the film’s benefit. The only aspect of the story that didn’t work to me was the romance between Harry Lockhart and Harmony Lane. I really can’t see why she is worth all the trouble or why Harry would even want to be with her, she’s honestly quite a whore.
The film has one of the absolute best narrations of all time from Robert Downey Jr. as his character tells the story while having quite a bit of difficulty. He goes back to parts he forgot, criticizes scenes and gets off topic. All to excellent comedic effect. It is very self aware which works in its favor and gives a feeling of true originality to the proceedings.
The clever, tightly written script by Shane Black is the main reason to watch the film. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is hilarious but also manages to be very cool and stylish with a nice noir tone and even has a pretty damn good final shootout.
To me, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a fantastic film. I highly recommend it to all fans of cinema. Anyone looking for a neo-noir, a comedy or even a low octane action film will likely find a good time wrapped up within. It can even work as an alternative Christmas film like Die Hard or In Bruges.