Over the past few days, I’ve been doing a mega marathon of MCU movies, so seeing Robert Downey Jr. not flying around in a super suit was particularly jarring. Though I’ve somewhat shamefully not seen RDJ in many movies outside of the crime fighting superhero kind, it was still lovely to see him do something outside of my comfort zone for once.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a pre-MCU directorial stint from Shane Black. (Yes, the same Shane Black who directed Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys). However, though IM3 and TNG are really quite different in terms of premise, they all have similar themes running through them. Not to mention that Robert stars in all three, the snappy, quirky nature of all three of the aforementioned Shane Black movies is what links all of his works. In Kiss Kiss, RDJ stars as a petty thief who unintentionally poses as an actor in order to evade the police. Though he’s originally a New Yorker, his new ‘agent’ brings him to Los Angeles, where he finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation and an undercover detective who is also helping him to prepare for his upcoming big acting role.
I mentioned previously that the snappy, slightly comedic dialogue in Black’s films seems to make an appearance consistently in his back catalogue. For instance, “Where are you, you fuzzy little bitch?” (a direct quote in which our main character addresses a spider) could have been lifted straight from the script of The Nice Guys, or it could easily be something that was said by Tony Stark himself. It comes as no surprise then to learn that Shane Black also co-writes all of the movies in which he receives a directorial credit, and though some may not appreciate his work as much as others, he brings a really cool flavour to each of his films.
Indeed, it does seem that a lot of people are wary of Shane Black because of his universally-panned attempt at Predator, but The Long Kiss Goodnight is one of my favourite movies due to having fond childhood memories of watching it several times with my Dad. So I knew this was going to be fun. I was right 😝
Sorry to keep banging on about the writing, but the script here is immediately spunky and zingy, and having Robert Downey Jr. narrate the whole shindig is kind of genius. This role has him written all over it, and Val Kilmer?! He’s so perfect as “Gay”; he’s never a caricature of a gay man which is so refreshing, and he times his comedy perfectly. Kilmer is kind of the unsung star of this film, it must be said, and it so clear that he was so eager to take on a comedic role like this one.
But enough about the writing, let’s talk about the visuals. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang doesn’t look like a 2005 movie at all… and I love that about it. Black clearly took a lot of inspiration from 60s neo-noir romance thrillers, which really shines through in his attention to set details and Michael Barrett’s cinematography. It’s a little over-stylised here and there, but that doesn’t take away from its effectiveness. A really good-looking movie overall.
So there’s nothing out of the ordinary or particularly memorable about this movie minus some excellent screenplay magic, but it’s such a fun movie to watch and is often truly funny. I won’t lie and pretend I remember much about the storyline itself, but rather that I remember the memory of watching it as being a fond one.
Great leading performances, an utterly ridiculous plot, but once you’re done with it, you’re probably not gonna remember it the following day. And that’s fine!
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Rating: ½