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ROBERT DOWNEY JR AND VAL KILMER IN 'KISS KISS BANG BANG'

Michelle Monaghan in KISS KISS BANG BANG Year: 2005 Rating: ****

Famous for writing the original LETHAL WEAPON, thus receiving Story Credit for the entire hit-and-miss franchise, Shane Black energetically attempts to trade mainstream action for a Quentin Tarantino style wheelhouse of humorously neurotic criminals who still do violent, desperate, horrible things... 

And instead of outright ripping off the PULP FICTION auteur, Black goes back even further, basing the adapted KISS KISS BANG BANG on his love of Pulp Fiction itself: detective novels that inspired everything in the 1940's/1950's Noir lexicon, making this a mile-a-minute Neo Noir that runs itself ragged before the first fifteen minutes...

Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG

But the perfect lead's cast to deliberately exhaust the audience with self-aware/self-deprecating narration that will often critique the very film you're watching, ala Mel Brooks. And although looking older than he would throughout his IRON MAN tenure... cleaning up from an infamous drug habit... Robert Downey Jr. fits our rambling crook turned would-be actor caught in a murder mystery as convoluted as the kind of novels that influenced it... 

In this case, a fictional gumshoe paperback series by a fictional author mentioned repeatedly and extremely important within the story itself, and that both Downey and super-gorgeous dream-girl Michelle Monaghan (and some other strategic characters) grew up reading... 

Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG

So now the Middle-American-born thirty-somethings are stuck in the fast L.A. nightlife, one step away from death while their peripheral romance... the vulnerable sap still in love with the hot chick who was always too good for him... seems straight out of Judd Apatow cinema...

But it's Val Kilmer who glues everything together as Gay Perry, a successful and confident homosexual Hollywood-hired detective teaching Downey the ropes... and yet soon enough both get equally tangled in the twisty bedlam (you can almost hear Kilmer channel Danny Glover's famous "I'm too old for this" line)...

Val Kilmer in KISS KISS BANG BANG

So KISS KISS provides the once hot method-acting madman a surprisingly subdued role he can vanish into without trying too hard (THE DOORS) whilst providing more than just his rugged handsomeness (HEAT) which, at this point, is not only aged but has extra weight added on and, randomly teasing the gay stereotypes, he becomes both a befitting target and experienced muse for Downey's incessant quips...

And there are several action-packed/high-octane moments in Black's hyperactive thriller where he's showcasing something more 1980's mainstream after all... scenes of the polar opposite partners bickering (and even fist-fighting like 48 HRS) is far more entertaining and intriguing than those Tarantino elements that can wind up downright dizzying. But, for what its worth, KISS KISS BANG BANG is pretty much a good kind of dizzy. 

Ariel Winter (the young flackback Harmony) in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Stephanie Pearson (the young flackback Harmony) in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Stephanie Pearson (the young flackback Harmony) in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG with Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Random Artwork "Gato" from KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Red-herring Red Haired Girl Shannyn Sossamon in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Red-herring Red Haired Girl Shannyn Sossamon in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Opening Credit Artwork from KISS KISS BANG BANG
Opening Credit Artwork from KISS KISS BANG BANG
Opening Credit Artwork from KISS KISS BANG BANG
Opening Credit Artwork from KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Ariel Winter (the young flackback Harmony) in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Michelle Monaghan in KISS KISS BANG BANG (Bear Bear Commercial)
Michelle Monaghan in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
Opening Credit Artwork from KISS KISS BANG BANG
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in KISS KISS BANG BANG
OPENING CREDIT ARTWORK FOR KISS KISS BANG BANG

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