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Hidden Treasures

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Today’s films seem to be more and more incoherent, loud and flashy. In fact, most theatrical releases pale in comparison to the classics that came before them. However, while the Hollywood system may be running low on energy and originality, every once in a while a film replenishes a sense of hope that quality filmmaking is not dead. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of those films.

The film stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer as a mismatched duo trying to solve a murder case amid the glittery Hollywood landscape. Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III, Gone, Baby, Gone) plays Harmony Faith Lane, a sultry, aspiring actress who gets caught up in the middle of it all.

Although its description may indicate that the film is a conventional whodunit, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang manages to turn the genre completely on its ear. Protagonist Harry Lockhart (Downey) narrates, poking self-referential fun at the fact that the events onscreen are, in fact, a film. He often interacts with the movie, pausing to drop some vital information he forgot and frequently addresses the audience directly. Also, the film is divided into various chapters, with titles taken from works by Raymond Chandler. Unlike those traditional mysteries, however, no square-jawed heroes pervade this metropolis. Viewers instead get Lockhart, a thief mistaken for an actor, and Kilmer’s Perry, a tough private detective who happens to be homosexual.

Acclaimed screenwriter Shane Black – who created the modern buddy action film with 1987’s Lethal Weapon – puts together a top-notch script with highly memorable moments, an astonishingly fresh take on the material and crackling dialogue, including a voice-over narration like no other. He makes his directorial debut here, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. The complex, fast-paced tale has not a dull moment, whisking the audience along for the ride.

Made with a modest budget of $15 million, the film unfortunately got lost in the shuffle during its theatrical release in 2005 and was unable to connect with audiences. Regardless, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang marked something of a return to form for Downey, whose career has skyrocketed since its release. He will take on his biggest role in years as the title hero in this summer’s highly-anticipated Iron Man.

While it may not have been a blockbuster, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a sharp, smart comedic thriller that’s certain to trump the vast majority of Hollywood thrill rides. In short, it is a cinematic shot of adrenaline for a genre that once seemed to be on its last legs.

Grade: ARating: RRuntime: 102 min.

See the next instalment of “Hidden Treasures,” coming soon.