Film Review – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a crime-caper film about a guy (Robert Downey Jr) who accidentally gets a job as an actor while hiding from the police after a break-in, but then ends up pretending to be a detective (with Val Kilmer) when he’s supposed to be auditioning as an actor. The script was written by Shane Black (who wrote films like Lethal Weapon) and he also directed – that might explain why the script seems to be trying just a bit too hard to be clever sometimes, it’s full of needless double twists and in-jokes which make it more complicated than it should be.
At the heart is a half decent yarn, but a couple of things let it down. Firstly, both Downey Jr and Kilmer seem miscast to me, both play their roles well but somehow it doesn’t quite click – a clue to this is even in the film itself, where Kilmer tells Downey Jr that he wouldn’t get the part he was auditioning for because he’s only there to worry Colin Farrell into taking a lower salary; it seems that in real life, they opted for the cheaper version instead when really the part sounds like it was written for Farrell.
Speaking of the arch-eyebrow gymnast himself, another reason why the film falls down is that the dialogue doesn’t really cut it – the whole thing is reminiscent of a Martin McDonagh screenplay but without the magical touches that he brings or the neurotic energy that Colin Farrell gives his films. It’s no In Bruges that’s for sure, nor is it as good as Seven Psychopaths but of course to be fair those films came later. It’s also lacking the snappy set piece dialogue of someone like Tarantino, and the ‘gay’ jokes just seem a little pathetic.
On the other hand, it does have some good moments where it breaks with convention – there’s a particular interrogation scene which made me laugh, and a thing with a finger that you don’t expect – it’s a shame that there just aren’t enough of those moments to sustain the whole film. It sounds like I’m being very harsh – I’m not, it’s still a watchable flick. It’s just that with the talent involved in the acting and writing departments, it should have been a lot more.