Review of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and other Notes


Before I get into the movie review, I just want to mention that I have gotten approved for a press pass to cover Kumoricon in Oregon for Bureau42.com. So, if any of you reading the blog will be attending Kumoricon, I will be there. Now, I just need to finish getting Linux installed on my notebook and getting it up and running with my Wireless card so I can more easily live blog during the convention. Anyway, on with the review.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. & Val Kilmer

Directed by Shane Black

The Premise:

Small time thief Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr.) manages to evade going to jail by stumbling, literally, into a screen test and getting drug out to California for a movie role in a private detective film. He then ends up stumbling (a little less literally) into two murders, a cover-up, fraud, and and the girl from high school he had the hots for.

The Genre: Contemporary Dark Comedy Detective Film.

The Good:

Downey Jr.’s narration is very well done. It’s funny and witty without being contrived witty (like Buffy can be a times). It also manages to fit some Hard Boiled Detective Novel-isms in there, without being too corny about it. The rest of the dialog is the same as well, with the exception of the Detective Novel-isms, which when they are used, are used by people who have a good reason for using them – they grew up reading Hard Boiled detective novels and thus they effected their speech patterns, somewhat. But, frankly, the character of Harry Lockhart (especially his narration, makes this movie.

The Bad:

Lockhart’s Badass Moment at the end of the movie feels a little out of place. Particularly after he Heroic BSODs after the first time he kills someone, and the second time he freezes up a bit. The end of the movie, though, he’s apparently picked up the Carnival of Carnage feat a couple times and takes out 3 people in very quick succession, without stopping. There were mitigating factors, but still…

The Ugly:

The amount of development for the villain is minimal, which is unfortunate, because with most good hardboiled detective novels and films, from The Limey, to Brick, to The Maltese Falcon, we get to meet and spend time with the villain, and either through expository dialog delivered by the villain or by the protagonist, we learn why he’s doing what he’s doing. The reason doesn’t have to be justfied, or believable, or sympathetic, but at least we have a cause for the effect (the murder(s) and other crimes the villain or his henchmen have been performing throughout the film).

The Verdict:

This is a very good film. If you like detective fiction, particularly the hard boiled stuff from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, you’ll like this movie. It’s one of the best crime/mystery movies I’ve seen thus far – and with perhaps one exception (which I’m not going to spoil), it doesn’t cheat. Get this film.

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