Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Tom Williams (15th April 2006).
The Film

At the bottom line, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is an excellent movie. A modern noir, with a feeling similar to "Payback" (1999) or the recen "Ocean’s Eleven" (2001) remake, director Shane Black‘s "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" stars the amazing Robert Downey Jr. as well as the chronically underrated Val Kilmer in a film that is both earnest and satiric. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is the story of Downey Jr’s Harry Lockhart, a petty thief who is spun into LA’s world of glamour and corruption through a series of unlikely events.

Lockhart is instantly likeable, a charming and charismatic protagonist. It is not only his charisma that carries us, however, but also his flaws- though Lockhart narrates the story in typical noir style, he doesn’t do so without making a few mistakes, and telling us about them- stopping the story, and apologising for forgetting to tell us something in an endearing break in the fourth wall that continues, on and off, though the film.

What really cements the film as a worthwhile effort is its self awareness. Our requisite femme fatale, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) is not only a childhood sweetheart of Harry’s- the one that got away- but also a taut parody of LA’s brutal lifestyle, the primary focus of the plot and an avid fan of pulpy detective novels starring Johnny Gossamer- stories rapidly mirrored by the film’s plot. It is this awareness of the fakeness of pulp and noir- which is occasionally discussed in the movie- and a realistic attempt to resolve it coherently with a more (but certainly not totally) realistic view of the world that holds us. We are allowed to enjoy the unliklihoods, the occasionally slapstick action and violence, the bizarrely intuitive leaps of logic, because the film, and it’s narrator, are perfectly aware that it’s not stuff you deal with every day.

Kilmer’s role as private eye Perry van Shrike is not only wonderfully matched with Downey Jr, but also another self-referential nod to the nature of the film. Early on, Gay Perry, as he’s apparently known in the business, tells Harry that the sort of detective work he does is boring, tending towards surveillance. Within minutes we are treated to action and intrigue on a scale that’s perhaps more surprising to Gay Perry than to us. Likewise, Harry’s confession at the film’s end that it shouldn’t end this way- that it feels like a fake, story ending- makes us more likely to believe it. You can see how the same technique would have worked in the book upon which "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is based. Sure, it seems unlikely that it would end this way. But unlikely or not, this is the way it really ended.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is not an intelligent film in the sense that it makes you think about the big issues of life, but the skill and intelligence that went into making it are always evident.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1, this anamorphic widescreen image is about as perfect as they can come. Warner Brothers have done a splendid job creating a spotless and sharp transfer as should be the case with all recent films. Color detail is finely executed and skin tones are spot on. Blacks are deep and shadow detail is consistent. It's a gorgeous transfer to look at.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1 is included here and we also get an Audio Descriptive track in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo as well for the visually impaired. The English 5.1 track is a perfect match to the visuals, the dialogue is clean and distortion free. The sound effects and directional surrounds make good use of the 5.1 space without feeling to out of place and the music is also well rendered throughout the space. Overall it's a solid effort and the only improvement I could recommend would be for a DTS track...but Warner Brothers rarely use DTS, which is a shame.
Optional subtitles are also included in English, English for the hearing impaired and in Hebrew.

Extras

None!

Overall

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A Extras: F Overall: C

 


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