Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Screenwriter Shane Black, the mind behind such films as LETHAL WEAPON and THE LAST BOY SCOUT, makes his directorial debut with a film about a small time hood that gets mistaken for an actor. Teaming up with a real detective, who is a technical advisor for a film, the fake and real detective try to solve a murder, win the heart of the girl, and spew some witty banter while trying not to get killed in the process.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Shane Black has created some very original characters over the span of his very short and high profile career, plus his knack for creating very quick and memorable dialogue is a rare gift. Directing, while in the same artistic field as writing, is a whole other ball game and since Black is making his debut here, there are a few obvious flaws in his tapestry. Black shows clear signs of a rookie, or at least one not seasoned enough to understand that certain devices come across as just that Ė devices. His overuse of title cards, that annoying frame film stop gag, and sometimes heavy handed way that he treats the audience, are glowing reminders that the film has been directed by a newbie. Which is a shame, because as a film, KISS KISS BANG BANG isnít all that bad. It certainly looks terrific, capturing that classic Joel Silver-esk look (could be because of Silver who produced this one, or maybe Cinematographer Michael Barrett), the script and dialogue are top notch as always (minus the few times Black goes overboard with the obvious), and the work by everyone involved is really good. But those stupid cool-just-to-be-cool tactics at times ripped me right out of the compelling world that Black was trying so hard to immerse me in. Jarring may be cool in Blackís world, but in the cinematic one itís death.
As previously stated, everyoneís work here is cool and methodic, riding parallel to Blackís slick writing style. Downey Jr. has never been better, as an aging man in desperate need of a reason to live, with Kilmer doing his best comedic work since the old days of REAL GENIUS (but more somber!), but the real compelling work here is by actress Michelle Monaghan, who combines both a feistiness and glowing magnetic quality that is rarely seen anymore. The three leads seem to have a skill with Blackís words and the teaming is a perfect fit. Itís just too bad that Black didnít trust himself enough (or was maybe wanting to appear so cool as not to care) to let the film flow like a story, not like a large inside joke. Take heed of the title of your own film Shane Ė a little kiss kiss, a little bang bang, mixed with your magical words is more then enough to make it good ride.
Commentary (with Director Shane Black and actors Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer): What is less about the film itself, but rather the personalities of the commentators, could have been a bore-fest. But with a somber Black, a reactionary Downey Jr. and a wise cracking Kilmer, this one is actually a fun listen. And while I would definitely have liked a brutal and honest by himself Shane Black commentary, this one will do!
Gag Reel (4:18): A lot of great Kilmer riffing, which makes one nostalgic for the old TOP SECRET! days.
Plus there is also an original Theatrical Trailer. (Again, I donít count those damn forced trailers!)
Hopefully over time, brilliant writer Shane Black will develop a directorial style that will match his terrific writing. KISS KISS BANG BANG is a film with great elements that is unfortunately wrapped in a sheet of cool-just-to-be-cool gimmicks which wreck a film that is actually really good. Black should learn from some of the masters who have previously helmed his work, keep the good, trim the fat.