Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
Director: Shane Black
Running Time: 103 mins
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an American film about a man who, after arriving in Los Angeles masquerading as an actor, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery, which unites him with a young starlet and a local detective.
It may not be the world’s most orthodox Christmas movie, but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang proves a thoroughly entertaining watch thanks to a great sense of dark humour, top-quality performances across the board and an action-packed (if not often convoluted) story. Bolstered by energetic direction throughout, the film is a lot of fun, and a perfect bit of anti-festive entertainment.
There’s a lot to like about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but if there’s one thing that really stands out about it, it has to be the performances. With a strong cast led by the trio of Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan, the actors are dynamite right the way through, bringing hilarious energy to the table, and making the best out of an already very funny screenplay.
Downey Jr. and Monaghan are a delight throughout, and their awkward will-they-won’t-they relationship is complemented by both of their ineptness when faced with an increasingly complex murder mystery. They’re great fun to watch throughout, and work really well together, but they’re just eclipsed by a fantastically funny supporting turn from Val Kilmer.
With sharp one-liners and effortless confidence on screen, Kilmer’s portrayal of a ‘Gay Perry’ the private eye is an absolute riot, and as well as bringing a surprising amount of wisdom and experience to proceedings, he works as a fantastic bit of comic relief from beginning to end.
In fact, the humour in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is probably its strongest suit. The performances are great, and bring great energy to the table, but the screenplay provides some excellent dark humour throughout that’s both engaging and at times properly hilarious.
As a deliberately anti-festive crime caper, the film is filled to the brim with dark comedy that makes for a deliciously entertaining watch, and coupled with fantastically funny fourth wall breaks from narrator Robert Downey Jr. throughout too, there’s more than enough about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to make you laugh.
So, as a comedy, the film works really rather well, with a sharp and bold sense of dark humour that combines well-written jokes with a bizarre whirlwind of a murder mystery. When it comes to making a good, exciting story out of that murder mystery, however, things aren’t quite as successful.
Despite the excellent performances and energetic directing from Shane Black, the crime part of the movie really gets lost in what rapidly devolves into a very convoluted plot.
Sure, watching the characters get way in over their heads as the situation grows wildly out of hand is a good laugh, but that’s at the expense of a plot that’s fully engaging, with too many extra intricacies and complexities brought into the mix in rapid succession through the middle act, making things just a little too hard to follow.
That’s not to say it becomes a dull watch, and the action-packed final act helps to make it thoroughly entertaining to the finish, but in comparison to the high benchmark set by its excellent humour, the film really falls short when it comes to its story.
Overall, though, I really liked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. With three dynamite lead performances, a great sense of dark humour, some great action and energetic directing, the film is hugely entertaining throughout, and although it doesn’t quite hit the same heights with its often convoluted plot, it’s still full of great laughs and anti-festive fun from beginning to end, which is why I’m giving it a 7.6.