So, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
There are films that reach your attention but for some reason you never get a chance to watch them. Film watching is a tiring game, there are so many to see, yet so little time. Also, film watching is an expensive hobby - in 2005, the year ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ was released, I was a broke ass student with very little money. In that year Batman Begins, Sin City, V for Vendetta and the third new Star Wars film (which I loved, so shut your mouth) were released. If I’m honest, KKBB was just a blip on my radar. I just didn’t pay it any mind.
Well as the years have gone by, the blip became larger. I would hear word of mouth reviews from friends who’d seen the film and strongly recommended it. Yet I still ignored the film. Think about what has come out in the past 7 to 8 years. How could this film, from a director I’d never heard of (who had something to do with the one Lethal Weapon film I actually enjoyed), staring the druggie who also happened to be from Ally McBeal have anything on The Dark Knight, Avengers, The Departed and all those awesome films. It couldn’t compete.
Well, that’s what I thought before I realised this unknown director got the gig to direct Iron Man 3 and that druggie cleaned up his act and became... well, awesome. I finally watched 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang' and it blew me away.
I’ve already admitted on this blog that I get overly excited about films, but I have watched KKBB three times over the past month alone and every single time it just gets better. I brought up the Dark Knight earlier for a good reason – the last time a film left me utterly flabbergasted and in awe was The Dark Knight. Let’s be clear, I consider The Dark Knight to be nothing short of a classic and one of the most important films of the past 20 years – but my heart tells me the very same thing about ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’.
‘Kiss’ is a lot of things, but if you wanted to distil it into a single element then you would have to say that it is a detective film. But I am doing the film a great disservice by breaking it down to this one point and even on this point, KKBB is a complicated detective film.
Everything in this film is a mystery, no matter how small and they are all important - from Downey Jr’s character, Harry, to the minor purple wigged character that get killed half way through the movie. The way all of these mysteries unfold and reveal themselves is one of the reasons why it is such a joy to watch. I’ve seen so many film that have tried to do the film noiry thing and have failed miserably (I’m looking at you, Brick), but ‘Kiss’ had my undivided attention from the first to the last scene – truly.
Everything I have read about KKBB gives a lot of praise to Downey Jr and Fat Batman (Sorry Val Kilmer, I couldn’t resist – now I feel cruel) and rightly so, they are incredible in this film – but Shane Black should have demanded all of the praise. I have to keep reminding myself that this was his first film.
The single biggest reason why ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ works, why it doesn’t implode with so many different genres mixed into its pot is because of Shane Black and the confidence he instils in this film. This film is like that gorgeous girl back in school that knew she was sexy as all hell and that you wanted to sleep with her.
It’s that confidence that makes the film hilarious and the jokes stay funny after every watch. It’s that confidence that makes the actions scenes exciting and they stay exciting after every watch. It is also that confidence that makes the detective elements of this film work and it’s that confidence that makes the puzzles intriguing.
‘Kiss Kiss’ also struck a chord with me because of its central theme around regret. Like I hinted at earlier, this is a relatively complex film and the characters are also very complex and each of them have done (or are doing) something in their life that they regret.
It’s funny, the amount of times I’ve heard someone say “I live my life without regret” or “I’ve never regretted anything” and I've wondered what an utterly stupid thing to say. How is that even possible? Have these people never made any mistakes in their lives? Are they saying that they are flawless?
And it is these complicated flaws in the central characters I find most fascinating. Our heroes aren't even heroes and the Princess in distress isn’t so pure.
Ultimately, The Dark Knight rightly gets lauded for not only being an incredible film, but because it has had a massive cultural impact. I’m not here to argue that ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ rivals TDK on cultural impact – it clearly doesn’t. What I will argue is that ‘Kiss Kiss’ is as ambitious, as well made and maybe more confident than The Dark Knight. ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ is a very special film which is rightly gaining cult status.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of the best films I have ever seen.