Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Batman and Iron Man together at last! Except this time, Batman actually is gay.

Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Junior) is a thief posing as an actor who teams up with tough-guy private eye Perry Van Shrike (Val Kilmer) and frustrated actress Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan). They stumble upon a murder, which is when the comedy starts to ensue.

When you take elements of a noir, mix it together with dark comedy, action, a little bit of love, and a whole lot of satire and put in one flick, it seems like it would just be another jumbled up piece that would turn out to be just another lame rip-off of ‘Pulp Fiction’. However, c0-writer/director Shane Black is definitely a guy you can depend on for originality.

The film starts off with this very self-aware narrative that shows us all of the things we should know about this story, and makes it a point to point out all of the obvious stuff that pop-up later on in the flick. This was a hilarious way to start the flick off because it got me in the right mind-set of how the comedy was going to be, how frequent it was, and that I also wasn’t going to see something I’ve seen before. Black is a writer that I hear so much about and I can really tell that he has some real talent because with each and every single frame, he keeps on bringing more and more fresh ideas to this story to the point where you think anything can happen, and it actually does.

Despite bringing some fresh and new air to this type of flick, there is also a huge amount to laugh-out-loud here, which is exactly what I did. There’s a lot of gay jokes here to be heard but they work incredibly well, the tongue-in-cheek humor that shows these characters basically talking like they are in another crime-action flick works and doesn’t seem overly used at all, the one-liners just come out like crazy, and you can’t laugh at how funny Black is when he’s poking fun at Hollywood. We always get those flicks that make it abundantly clear that Hollywood is just a huge scam but this flick tells it in a very funny and different way where Black brought up funny statements such as the fact that every girl from a little farm-town makes it “big” or that everyone in these bars look like celebrity impersonators, just felt like the best kind of satire that actually had me laughing. It’s also one of those flicks that pokes fun at people getting shot and killed but that still made me laugh. I don’t know what it is with this guy, but Shane Black is really earning points from me.

My only gripe with this flick is that I do feel like the film tries a little too hard to give us a complicated plot so it doesn’t become one of those stories it’s making fun of. Yes, the plot is a mystery but it gets way too complicated to the point of where I had no idea who the hell this chick was that they were searching for, let alone, if she was alive or dead. All I wanted to see was what would happen to our three main characters and I guess that’s where my favorite parts of this flick came from.

Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely awesome as Harry Lockhart because he plays Downey the way we want to see him played. The character, Harry himself is pretty interesting but it’s not his character arch that made him interesting, it was the charisma and charm that Downey gives off in his performance that gets you behind this guy right from the start. Once again, it’s one of those mile-a-minute/tweeker talks that we usually get from him but it works well for his character and it’s just so much fun to see Downey having a ball with a character like this.

However, what really surprised me was how he actually took the back-burner from a dude none as, Val Kilmer. Yes, The Val Kilmer takes this film from Downey and practically makes it his own with his hilarious performance as Gay Perry (yes that is his name). Kilmer is an actor that is known for choosing some really good roles but then at the same time, known for choosing some real shit roles but I think he found his niche here as the sarcastic-as-hell, gay cop that just elevates this film beyond belief, every time he shows up on-screen. Don’t let me take any credit away from Downey because I think he was awesome here equally, but it was Kilmer who just brought so much energy, so much fun, and so much humor to this whole flick that it really made me crack-up at just about everything he said, even when he was being serious. The chemistry is also a lot of fun to watch too considering that they are supposed to be hating each other for a good part of the flick but they still end up having that buddy chemistry that worked so well for Black in the past.

Michelle Monaghan is surprisingly awesome as Harmony Faith Lane, Harry’s love-interest. I was very surprised when I actually found myself laughing at Monaghan’s character here because not only is she fine as hell but she’s got some great comedic timing to her as well and makes her character seem more than just another one-note, action flick love-interest that starts off strong but then starts to fade away from the picture slowly. I also couldn’t stop thinking about how much Emma Stone actually looks and sounds like her but I hope that Stone stays on the path she’s on, considering Monaghan hasn’t really had a good flick in awhile.

Consensus: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an original piece of work that combines mystery, crime, action, romance, and tongue-in-cheek comedy that works on almost every level especially with its great lead performances and gets me more and more excited to see what Black and Downey Jr. are going to do with ‘Iron Man 3’.



  1. This is one of my favourites. I think it was supposed to be confusing when it came to the girl though. She’s the MacGuffin; who she is is less important than watching everyone try to find out. It’s like in Chandler’s The Big Sleep, where Raymond Chandler himself couldn’t explain one of the murders! Proper noir stories aren’t supposed to make total sense.
    You’re right about Michelle Monaghan. This flick made me fall completely in love with her. Gay Perry is a legend too. I would really love to see these characters again in another story.

  2. This is one of my favourite films of all time. I love RDJ and Val Kilmer in the lead roles and I think Michelle Monaghan is great, I was a big fan of her before I saw this film and I enjoyed her in this as well. I think the humour is very very clever; there is some really noticeable stuff and then some subtle things that you will pick up on repeated viewings.

  3. Not only do I think this is one of the best in the film noir genre, but it’s also one of my favorites movies of all time. I love Shane Black as a writer, because as someone who is clearly inspired by film noir, he captures the sarcastic banter between the characters perfectly. (See also: The Last Boy Scout) There’s no better example than their exchange about “idiot in the dictionary.” Robert Downey Jr. has the ideal sense of humor for the role of Harry and Val Kilmer is no slouch either as Gay Perry.

  4. Haha, I didn’t realize the Ironman and Batman together bit… I’ve been a fan of Shane Black since his Lethal Weapon days. One of the funniest writers out there. Surprising that since this film, he hasn’t directed any other movies. I would have thought the offers would be flowing. Can’t wait for his reunion with RDJ next year.

  5. Great film. I watched this for the first time just after Christmas, and loved it. Might become an annual film for me; at the very least, I need to see how it holds up to a second viewing.

  6. Great movie. The two leads were just superb. Can’t recall the last comedy Val Kilmer did since Top Secret! which is a shame cause he has a knack for it. Need to see him in more roles though, of any kind, he’s been missing for awhile. Glad to hear Downey and Black are teaming-up on the next installment of Iron Man I suspect the dialogue will be witty, the characters interesting and everyone entertained.

  7. Great review of a great movie. I really like this film a lot. I had it as one of my top 5 non-traditional Christmas movies. I think this is the film that started Downey, Jr.’s career revivial, and I’m surprised it didn’t do the same for Kilmer. I also agree with your assessment of Monaghan. It was a great introduction to her for me. I’d love to see a sequel to this sometime.

  8. Good review. I love re-watching this movie. A lot of memorable lines that I didn’t catch on a first viewing, especially Kilmer’s.

  9. Great review of a movie I really love. You are right about the plot getting way too complicated (I still am lost every time I watch it), but since the rest of the film is so great and funny it really doesn’t matter. There are a lot of favorite bits, but I really like when Downey is in the bar looking at people looking like celebrities. Also like the scene towards the end where he wants to play russian roulette to get information. It’s hilarious.

  10. Excellent film. Solid story. Best of Kilmer in forever. Monaghan in good. Downey Jr is phenomenal. Great review.

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