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Way better than I expected. Hip and self-aware but tons of fun!
Camera-Obscura30 September 2006
I didn't expect much from this at all, but it turned out pretty good. Think of a Raymond Chandler murder mystery, updated to a sort of modern and enormously... self-aware buddy film-noir. Yes, a buddy-movie, film-noir, murder mystery, crime-thriller, all rolled into one hip modern self-referential update, packed with amusing references to all the clichés of the genres depicted. Before you can even think about the next cliché in the film, it grabs it, makes a mockery of it and proceeds at break-neck pace.

Petty thief Harry Lockhardt (Downey) is a lovable loser who accidentally winds up in the movie business, auditioning for the part of a private detective. Val Kilmer plays the real private eye, Perry Shrike (half the fun is picking the right name!) who has to learn him the trades of the business, but soon they both wind up in a murder mystery with so many twists and turns (and bodies), it'll make your head spin.

Downey and Kilmer seem to have the time of their lives, but not to the viewer's expense. Perhaps a bit too clever for it's own good with so many "clever" plot turns, that I was lost in the end, but perhaps I'm not as clever as I wish to. And I must say, Michelle Monaghan! Wow! She really gave one sexy performance! It derails a bit in the end and goes so wildly over the top with shaggy-dog jokes, ridiculously stupid bad guys and buddy-clichés, it makes Austin Powers look like a straight-faced classic. But as a whole very entertaining, with snappy dialogue, clever writing, and enjoyable performances. Just lots of fun.

Camera Obscura --- 8/10
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My kind of dark comedy.
TheMovieMark22 November 2005
The term "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" was first coined in the 1960s by the Japanese press as a nickname for James Bond. Director Shane Black loved the term and chose it as the movie's title because, "it so clearly represented what this film is." And what exactly is this film? Good question. For starters, it's original. It's a nice change of pace from all of the sequels and remakes we've been inundated with recently. I needed this breath of fresh air after being blind-sided by the news that a remake of Robocop might be on its way.

It's also funny and action-packed. The pace comes at us almost as quickly as the clever dialogue, making it nearly impossible for the average viewer to get bored. You may be offended, you may not appreciate the dark humor, and you may not get the style, but I would predict the majority of you won't get bored. Will I refund your ticket money if you *do* get bored? No, absolutely not. Don't be silly. I'll just say, "Oh well, I guess you're just in the minority on this one!" What I like most about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is it's so hard to "genre-lize." See what I did there? Add that term to the Movie Mark Dictionary. When you can't "genre-lize" something then you can't easily force it into any one specific genre. Clever, huh? That's what makes Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang so fun. Is there action? Yes! After all, it's by the same guy who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies. But it's not an action movie.

Is there humor? Indeed. The laughs mostly come from the chemistry between Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. and some of the crazy situations they find themselves in. This is my kind of dark humor. I love to be caught off guard by unexpected moments that make me laugh at things that might not be so funny if they were witnessed in the real world. But this isn't a comedy. The humor is never forced and doesn't have to resort to slapstick or flatulent puppies just to get cheap laughs. Sure, there's a scene that involves peeing on a corpse, but it has to be seen in its context to be appreciated.

If I were forced to affix a label to this then I suppose I'd say it's a darkly comedic murder mystery. It takes itself just seriously enough to keep you in suspense, but it's irreverent enough to simply be fun and entertaining. It works well enough as a farce without ever coming off as a pure parody.

My main complaint is that the story does get a little too confusing. I admit that I openly mocked other reviews that called the story "needlessly complex," but now that I have seen it I totally understand what these reviews are talking about. You'll want to pay careful attention or you'll get lost pretty quickly. I'd even suggest taking notes. If you're not careful you'll become so immersed with keeping up with the rapid-fire dialogue that you could lose focus on the plot details. It's not mind-blowing, but there are just so many characters and minutiae to keep up with that it's easy to lose track of what exactly is going on. If your friends call you "ol' goldfish attention span" then you could be in trouble.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that this movie is for everybody. The language gets pretty rough, there is strong sexual content, Val Kilmer is a detective who just happens to be gay and jokes are made at his expense, there's a decent amount of gunplay, and some people just might not appreciate the unconventionality on display.

But I loved the fact that this wasn't formulaic and that the look and style was different than the norm. Black admits to de-saturating the colors in post-production to give the film a crude, rough look. Perhaps some might like their movies a little more bright, but I thought it was quite effective at giving the film the pulp detective story vibe that Black was going for.

I wouldn't recommend this to my mother, so I won't pretend to know whether this fits *your* taste either. It all depends on how you view these kinds of things. Is it gratuitous or knowingly over-the-top? Clever or too clever for its own good? Cheesy or comfortable in its self-awareness? Ask yourself what it takes to offend your senses and let that be your guide.
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Calling Johnny Gossamer to action
jotix1002 December 2005
The immensely likable novel "Bodies are where you find them", written by Brett Halliday, has been adapted for the screen by Shane Black and the result is one of the funniest movies playing around. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" boasts an amazing dialog with some of the wittiest lines of any film in recent memory.

The film pays a tremendous bonus to fans of the genre, which combines a detective story technique with some amusement and irony thrown in. The result is a fun time at the movies. Mr. Halliday pays tribute to those forgotten cheap pulp fiction novels that were so popular at one time in this country.

The director has to be congratulated for combining the talents of two actors that pay off in unexpected ways. Robert Downey Jr., one of the best film actors, is paired in this movie with Val Kilmer, who tends to play heavy roles, but has never been seen as he is shown in the movie. Both these men compliment one another in ways we didn't expect. The chemistry between them seems to indicate these two actors had a lot of fun while making the film, as it shows in the way they play against one another.

Lovely Michelle Monaghan is seen as Harmony, a beautiful young hopeful working her way up in Hollywood. Also in the cast Corbin Bernsen, who is seen as Harlan Dexter. Larry Miller has a few brief moments in the picture.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is a witty and intelligent film. Thanks to its director, Shane Black, it's a film to be treasured.
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"I'm retired. I invented dice. What do you do?"
Flagrant-Baronessa3 August 2006
A lucky mistake shifts out-of-luck criminal Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr) from the gritty streets to glossy showbiz in L.A, landing him a part in an upcoming film. Another mistake then shifts him from actor to private detective, and this is where Val Kilmer comes in and things start to go wrong, more wrong and unbelievably wrong until they've snowballed into an enjoyable detective mess -- all to impress failed actress Harmony (Next big thing: Michelle Monaghan).

Shane Black's directorial debut 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' is a comic film noir. Even in the dazzling opening credits using a montage of contrasts of red, black and white, it is evident that this is no run-of-the-mill crime story, but a viciously entertaining ride from scene 01. What makes it so special is that it mixes equal doses of humour and crime like a $15,000,000 blender, pouring out a balanced end product and glazing it with a clever narrative coating by Robert Downey Jr. Black also sprinkles some rapid-fire dialogue onto his product, which is facilitated by the comedic chemistry between Downey and Kilmer. Some of the lines, gags and images are truly laugh-out-loud worthy. Everything else is nice, but forgettable.

Its only problem, as far as I can see it, is its paper-thin plot. It does not seem believable; it is complex, dizzying and not nearly as involving as it would like to be. So back to formula on that one, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang would be a near-perfect comedy-thriller.

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Shrewdly written, expertly delivered comic film-noir
almonetts17 November 2005
Directed and co-written by Shane Black; based on a novel, "Bodies Are Where You Find Them" written by Brett Halliday; and starring Robert Downey Jnr, Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan.

A terrific opening credit sequence easily sets up the audacity and chagrin of the film for an appreciative audience. In essence, these are the reasons why you need to see this movie: the razor sharp wit, shockingly fast-paced and hysterical dialogue, pulp-fiction-esquire vibe, its pure cheesiness and the cynicism of a beat up old paperback detective novel.

Got you yet? Alright, maybe an explanation of the seemingly simple plot is warranted. It begins with a ridiculously funny set up resulting in Downey's character being paired up with Kilmer to observe the latter in his job as a private detective. They hook up with a down-on-her luck actress who brings a case for the sleuths. This synopsis constitutes gross misrepresentation on my part as things get remarkably complex. How so? Well, even the lead the character (who also is purposefully pathetic as narrator) takes time out within the movie to remember where he is in telling the story. There are even snippets of dialogue where the characters attempt to fill in the gaps or actually remind themselves of what has happened thus far in the movie.

Downey, Kilmer and Monaghan are all caricatures drawn from popular references of literature, movies and art. All however, are larger than life, exhibit great chemistry and for a movie buff, it is heaven to witness the self referential exercises and hear the narrator shred every narrating convention applicable. Downey's performance is remarkable (neurotic, comic, vulnerable and charming). I have never seen Kilmer in such a well-defined, uproarious piece of work. Monaghan is also integral to the trio and shines exuding a brash, fighting and sexy appeal. She brought back fond memories of early Kathleen Turner and Rene Russo. The fact that her look screams Renee Zellweger, is not a bad thing either.

Black became famous in the 1980s for writing the hit buddy movies: Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight. As a first time director, he does well keeping the frenetic pace and allowing the audience to catch up only to get lost time and time again. The style is so disarmingly effective, that at times I shook my head in confusion or found my hands against my mouth, agape in shock. I also think that in creating such a brilliant script that Black may have blacklisted himself in Hollywood for mirroring its supposed fame and glamor and exposing its not too pretty side. His one-liners and connected sub-plots are not typical and Kilmer and Downey make magic with their banter and clinical delivery.

All the ingredients of a pulp-noir novella can be found, even employing a structure of chapter-type headings within the movie. Parallel story lines unfold and given plot assumptions are turned over, always with achingly funny results. Even the clichés are clever e.g. a tough guy predictably crashes through a glass table, or body after body turns up, to haunt the characters.

I strongly recommend the movie, given the talent of Downey and Kilmer. Downey should be honored with a Lead Actor Oscar nomination; while Kilmer deserves a Supporting Actor nod. It thrilled me to see them both in their element, as I was on the verge of disavowing them as marquee/box-office draws. The screenplay should also attract Oscar consideration.

One of the year's best films and one of those rare movies where you'll consistently find something new to laugh at, when viewed each of a dozen times.
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Seriously where did this dark horse of a film come from?!
rosaishere17 March 2006
Without a doubt I thought that this was truly entertaining film. I only managed to catch it at my local cinema in a one off showing, but I really wasn't disappointed.

Me and my friend went in the film not truly understanding what to expect. Basically it cracks down to Robert Downey Jr. starting the film off as a burglar, after being shot at he accidentally runs into an acting audition. Breaking down with tears in the office, he accidentally gets the acting job and whisked off to Hollywood with hopes of playing a detective in an upcoming film.

Cue Gay Perry a.k.a Val Kilmer who is fantastic in this film with his dry wit and humour adding some hilarious scenes to this film. He plays a gay detective assigned to help train up Robert Downey Jr. The pair of them get sucked into a story starting with discovery of a corpse and building into deeper plot involving kidnapping and murder. The plot line is genuinely well crafted, and is explored in the perfect amount of depth. It is quite simply littered with many funny moments. Probably the favourite of mine being the running joke of the gay detective through the film, involving the 'faggot' gun. Shane Black directs this film superbly, keeping it alive with sharp wit.

The whole cast clicks together perfectly with Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer shining with good support coming from Michelle Monaghan. The film is accompanied by a very light hearted narration from Robert Downey Jr. which makes the film that even bit more engaging.

Overall, a quirky, very amusing film, with a superb cast, and with a run time of 99 minutes, you simply can't afford to miss it.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang... A solid 10/10
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Difficult to follow thriller, full of Black humour.
BA_Harrison18 April 2006
Shane Black is a fine writer and his screenplays for Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight bristled with witty dialogue, great characters and deftly handled action scenes. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, his directorial debut, also shares these attributes, but suffers from a convoluted plot and a script so overloaded with witticisms and clever asides that the viewer soon feels overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of the experience.

Robert Downey Jr. plays a low-life criminal who inadvertently becomes a potential movie star whilst escaping from a heist gone wrong (on the run, he stumbles into an audition and gets the part). However, things take a turn for the worse when he goes undercover as a private-eye (in order to gain first hand experience necessary for the role) and witnesses a murder...

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an ambitious debut — several complex plot threads intertwine and an ingenious narrative links scenes - but despite his best efforts, Black loses control of affairs and the film spirals out of control. Despite my best efforts at keeping up, I just couldn't follow the storyline. It doesn't help matters that half of the lines are spoken in a chaotic scattershot manner and the other half are mumbled, making staying abreast of the story nigh on impossible at times. There are probably many moments of pure genius in Shane Black's script - it's a shame that I missed a lot of them.

The parts of the film that I did manage to follow and understand are actually very good. Kilmer and Downey Jr. work well together and share some incredibly funny scenes, there are some genuine 'classic' moments (Downey pissing on the corpse in the shower is hilarious) and the manner in which the story unfolds is, at times, inspired. If Black hadn't been trying so damn hard to be so clever with his words and had concentrated more on telling the story, this may have been a real gem.

Although the film closes with all loose ends neatly tied up, I suffered the majority of the running time baffled by proceedings and struggled to keep up with the sharp prose that flows thick and fast from the word go.

Maybe this is one of those films that would benefit from an immediate second viewing in order to catch all the bits I missed first time round.
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Slick Slick, Cool Cool
Shingle11 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is like a wildly expensive hooker who looks like she's worth millions yet is actually worth a hell of a lot less, but when the ride is so damn good you just can't complain and you'll be telling all your friends. Put another way, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a certain something which the murder mystery genre tends to lack - a sense of fun. So much so, that I was crying with laughter!

After an incredibly stylish opening credits sequence, we discover that Harry Lockheart (Downey Jr.) is our narrator and also a criminal. After breaking into a toy store to get his nephew a Christmas present, the alarm brings the attention of the police. Harry escapes only to stumble into a film audition. He miraculously gets the part and is immediately whisked off to LA to receive detective lessons for his role from private detective 'Gay' Perry Van Shrike (Kilmer). While at a party, Harry meets struggling actress and childhood friend Harmony Faith Lane (Monaghan) and stupidly explains that he is a private detective. However, it's not long before Harmony soon asks for his help when her sister is found dead.

All the trademarks of a cheap pulp murder mystery novel are here - deaths (obviously), sex, trashy clubs, a beautiful blonde who ought to be advertising shampoo, wrapped up corpses, crazy clues and more twists than a pole dancer on cocaine. Can you believe it; the film even predictably has a bad guy fall through a glass table. Ooh, how exciting! What makes this stand out is the genius that is writer Shane Black, responsible for Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang makes for Black's directorial debut and he must have a PhD in wit (a word a lot of critics will be using when describing this).

Robert Downey Jr. looks rough and downright cool as Harry Lockheart, the quintessential loser hero whom the young male audience will aspire to be. Harry is a good-hearted criminal (they do exist) who stumbles amidst the superficial gloss of Hollywood movie making and the murders taking place in LA. You can't help but root for him as he constantly tries to stay alive and make sense of the crazy scenario he's landed himself. This is a role that's likely to push Downey's career into overdrive, making him the next best thing... again... for the third time. Just like classic film noir, Harry also narrates the story, but what makes this all the more comical is that unlike the overused hard-boiled detective, who gives the audience a dark and moody voice-over, Harry can't even narrate properly!

That Val Kilmer makes for one tough homosexual, a welcome change of stereotype. Delivering a memorable performance as 'Gay' Perry, Kilmer is at his best when doing just about anything with Downey. Every one of their conversations raises a smile if not a laugh. With the right material, as seen here, he can handle humorous roles and this would certainly rank as one of his funniest. Michelle Monaghan is seductively charming as Harmony Faith Lane (which is what every parent ought to name their daughter). Coincidentally playing an up and coming actress, she'll definitely be catapulted into more work after this, since that's usually what happens to up and coming actresses who undress in a mainstream film. She manages to hold her own amongst the male leads mainly due to her character's nature to go out of her way for just about anything, thinking little about the consequences.

Not only does the film show us Black's love for the trashy detective novels and the murder mysteries of film noir, but his love and hate relationship with movies is also apparent. Taking the usual workings of what goes into the makings of a film, Black adds a new spin and manipulates these formulaic conventions such as narration, flashbacks, extras and credits. Can you say "post-modern" boys and girls? Movie buffs are likely to get a kick out of these 'self-aware' moments.

The film works as a showcase for Black to present his razor sharp wit during a number of absurdly thrilling and comic set pieces, each one clinging onto what is essentially a routine murder story as dense as the American government during a natural disaster. Unfortunately the fast pace leaves you with little time to piece all the clues together as the film skims over plot details. So much so that the lead characters have to do some obligatory explanations just to hook in anyone who is completely lost.

The brilliantly written characters and scenarios is what keeps one watching, but if a little more hot loving was given to the frequent twists and findings that occur then this could have pushed itself further as an eccentric little masterpiece. Still, where else will you come across the sight of Robert Downey Jr. hanging above a freeway by grabbing onto a corpse's hand sticking out of a coffin, which is somehow miraculously suspended in mid-air... only in a Shane Black film ladies and gentlemen!

Neat touches such as Perry's mobile phone ringtone, Downey making a sly remark about his past narcotics habit and a 'too-clever-for-its-own-damn-good' closing scene (which does look like it's been tacked on at the last minute) simply adds further icing on the already overly sweet cake.

The film treats you with its diverse absurdity and Shane Black's creativity of snowballing situations pumped with his remarkable talent for outlandish one-liners. Its fusing of a killer script and cool characters makes Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this year's Hot Ticket and one of those rare examples as to why I go to the cinema.
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Gossamer Connections
tedg16 July 2006
I'm like most people I guess. For me, there are movies that are "just" movies, things I enter for fun.

And there are others I enter as part of lucid living, what are usually called "art" films.

Its an artificial division that exists only because of the accidents of market forces that channel money down the different pipelines. But we accept it and apply different criteria. Too bad in a way, because when we encounter something like this, it falls between categories.

All the images are drawn from the popular vocabulary, but all the flows are out of bounds for popular movies. The cleverest element here is that all the advanced ideas from the inner "intelligent scriptwriters coven" (ISC, a sort of Skull and Bones) are mutated to funny slants on the cinematic vocabulary.

This is fun, but it isn't what the press calls a spoof, or any of the nuances they like along those lines, lines designed to support one or the other of those monetary channels. Its the language of Hollywood unleashed to eat a movie in bits, even while getting their appetite from the wholeness and perfection of the uneaten thing.

We have characters as other characters. Characters as actors. Detectives, and a pretend actor playing a pretend detective as our thrice-removed noir narrator — who forgets details and lapses into selfreferential monologues.

We have a peed-on body, a gay detective, not quite as cool as Dafoe in "Boondock Saints." But the dialog is so cool, each word sharpened, with characters correcting each other's words.

We have a writer outside and one inside. And a movie about a detective with a movie about a detective inside, each one dealing with sex and all four of these crisscrossing in the plot.

The only odd duck is the one that ISN'T odd, the pretty — very pretty — redhead. She's sort of the anchor here, an actress playing an actress who is the only one whose character is not acting. There's only one place where it seemed to take itself seriously, when our real detective encounters the hidden villain.

This part wasn't written for Robert Downey Jr, but it may as well have been. He's one of our best folded actors and he fully understands the multiple folding mechanics Black is using. He's a national treasure.

This won't be selected as one of the two "must see" movies from 2005 (a bad year). But that's only because of its commercial wrapper. Nevertheless, you really should see it. really.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Los Angeles, Land Without Police
claudio_carvalho8 July 2006
In LA, while escaping from the police after an unsuccessful robbery, the small time thief Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is accidentally submitted to an audition for a role of detective in a movie, and invited to a party. He meets the homosexual private eye Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), who suggests him to participate of an investigation to develop his character. He also meets the gorgeous aspirant actress Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), and finds that she was a friend of his childhood for whom he had a crush. Harry and Perry get involved in an intricate murder case with many leads. With the support of Harmony, they find the sordid truth of the case.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is a funny, but also violent, action movie with an original screenplay, where the lead character is actually the narrator of the events. Robert Downey Jr. is excellent in the role of the loser Harry Lockhart and shows a great chemistry with the delicious Michelle Monaghan, and also with his gay partner Val Kilmer. The story in a certain moment becomes very confused with many subplots, but in the end all of them are satisfactorily resolved. The usually efficient police, at least in American movies, apparently vanished in Los Angeles, since there are countless car chases and shootings without any police action. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Beijos e Tiros" ("Kisses and Shots")
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Funny, stylish, enjoyable self-aware and delivered by a great combination of Downey and Kilmer
bob the moo14 August 2006
Having stumbled into a casting session, petty thief Harry Lockhart has found himself flown to LA to try out for the lead in a major film. This also involves parties, at one of which he meets "Gay" Perry, a PI who acts as an adviser on such movies. When Harry joins Perry on a stake-out to learn the job they wind up balls-deep in mystery when they recover a dead body from the trunk of a dumped car. They leave the body and go their separate ways, but the body then turns up in Harry's bathroom and Perry realises that it is a setup. Coincidentally Harry's childhood sweetheart (Harmony) has her younger sister turn up in LA before committing suicide. She turns to Harry for help who, in a fit of puppy love, tells her he is a private detective. But with so many bodies all at once, are the cases as separate as they first appear?

Having spent a bit of time in the wilderness since his glory days, Shane Black returned to the screens properly as writer and director with an effective film that works surprisingly well in the genre he dominates while also poking fun at it. The plot is a real strength as it updates the potboilers of the 1940's with a complex string of "unrelated" murders that build together to a relatively satisfying conclusion. Sure it is full of holes at points and lacks some logic in the way it jumps around but it flows really well. However what really makes the film work is the post-ironic and fun delivery throughout. To some viewers I'm sure that it will be a bit too knowing but for me it was tremendously self-effacing fun. This is never done to the detriment of the narrative although some people may be disappointed that it takes precedence over traditional action (which it is quite light on).

Black does well with this though and his dialogue is full of great one-liners (as I expected) but also a lot of knowing references to the genre and the clichés that he helped create (which I didn't expect). What was pretty surprising was how well it all worked together. As director he has injected a lot of style into the film and is well supported by really cool opening credits, some wicked black humour and a strong soundtrack. Of course it wouldn't have worked without a cast that "got" what he was doing and fortunately his casting director got him two great leads. Downey Jr is brilliant. His narration is very natural and convincing and he really brings out the humour in his lines. In the rest of the film he is just as strong and is really fun. Kilmer is equally as good albeit in a smaller role; he is smart, tough and yet able to work well with his genre-busting character. They both work really well together and their chemistry produces a real energy. The support cast are good but not as strong. Monaghan is sexy but has to carry a lot of the narrative; Bernsen is merely a face; Miller has a small turn but generally everyone is in the shadown of Kilmer, Downey and Black.

Overall this is not a perfect film and those that don't like Black or the genre will probably not get it but it is still a lot of fun. Never taking itself seriously is a strong point and Black's writing is sharp and funny while his direction is stylish and cool. Downey Jr and Kilmer are both very strong and take to the material really well, bringing out plenty of energy and laughs. A really fun film that is affectionately mocking towards the genre.
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Not entirely successful, but nevertheless an interesting film
The_Void7 February 2006
I'm not sure whether or not I like this film. On the one hand, I enjoyed watching it and I respect the fact that it's tried to be a little different; but on the other hand, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang reminds me too much of the guy at the buffet who fills his plate and doesn't end up eating it all. The film is a comedy, a thriller, a murder mystery, an action flick; a character study and a crime film, all rolled into one. It would be hard for any film to take this cocktail and spin it into a coherent piece, but to it's credit; Kiss Kiss Bang Bang almost succeeds; but cracks begin to show where the story is concerned, as the film clearly makes the conglomeration of genres it's central point, and it's too easy to get confused. The film is based on a collection of stories by Brett Halliday, and it follows a petty thief who stumbles into the top flight of Hollywood by chance, and soon finds himself part of a murder investigation after witnessing a car speeding into a lake. The investigation includes a gay detective named 'Gay Perry', and his former childhood sweetheart, Harmony.

The cast is one of the film's main assets. Director Shane Black is always happy to show off his main star, who has finally made his way back into 'A' class movies after some...errr...time out. Downey is a talented actor, and it's through him that the film gains most of its vitality. He is joined by Val Kilmer, who is a lot better than I thought he would be in the role of the gay detective. Michelle Monaghan rounds off the cast, and holds her own against the two bigger name male leads. Shane Black is most famous for his action films, including credits for the Lethal Weapon series and Arnie vehicle; The Last Action Hero, but like the film's main lead; Black has had some time off recently, and this film marks his comeback. Some people were relieved to see the Predator co-star back in action...I cant say I share the sentiment, but all in all; I'm glad that he has finally made his directorial debut with this film. On the whole, this will appeal to people who like their films to be quirky and offbeat. The mock-noir style bodes well with Downey's witty performance, and the film is constantly entertaining; even if it doesn't always hit the mark dead on.
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Downey Jr. and Kilmer make a fine pair.
Hey_Sweden21 December 2014
Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is a small time thief who bungles his way into a gig as an actor. He's sent to LA, to work with a private eye named "Gay Perry" (Val Kilmer) who does consultation work for the movies. He runs into the extremely enticing aspiring actress Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), whom he manages to convince that he is an actual detective, and gets mixed up in a case Perry is working involving Harmony's kid sister and Harlan Dexter (Corbin Bernsen), a former actor turned entrepreneur.

Taking his inspiration from a novel by Brett Halliday, writer & debuting director Shane Black of "Lethal Weapon" fame basically sends up pulp detective fiction and the ever-popular "buddy- cop" genre. There are definitely some flashes of wit throughout, although the script isn't always terribly funny. Some of the gags are entirely obvious (such as when Black and Downey Jr. break the fourth wall and make fun of the conventions and clichés of filmmaking), but they still generate some chuckles. The script also works in digs at the way English speaking people don't always use the proper grammar. The banter between our two leads is consistent, and Black gives his movie some good pacing, and the widescreen photography is just right.

There is a solid cast at work here; besides Bernsen and the lovely Monaghan, we have the comedian Larry Miller, Dash Mihok and Rockmond Dunbar as a pair of goons named "Frying Pan" and "Fire", and the cute Shannyn Sossamon. But what makes "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" easy enough to watch is the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Kilmer, who are an amusing comedy pair. Downey Jr. also co-wrote and sang the end credits song! Some fun darkly comic bits include the mangling of Downey Jrs.' finger.

At the very end, Downey Jr. and Kilmer are able to send the viewers away with a smile.

Six out of 10.
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Extremely funny film noir spoof
renglish196421 September 2005
I saw this movie at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival and expected it to be the typical film noir genre. This seemed to be the case for the first couple of minutes of narrative monologue before the jokes started coming fast and furious. This turned out to be a highly entertaining comedy/buddy film couched in a tongue in cheek film noir setting. The dialogue was witty and the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmour was great. Some of the jokes went by so fast that I'll have to see this movie again to see what I missed as I was still laughing at the previous one. The director spoke before the movie and commented on how the producers were nervous about the risky choice of actors. This was a reference to Robert Downey Jr.'s past addiction problems, but this film proved that he was worth the risk. I saw 10 films at this year's film festival and this one was my favorite.
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You're gonna love this...
KyleReese13 August 2005
KKBB was shown at the Fantasy Filmfest in Germany. This festival for horror, sci-fi and thrillers is touring Germany in several big cities. KKBB was the opening movie in Cologne and it got a feverish applause after wards.

I can only say that this movie is one of the biggest surprises in the Action/Thriller/Comedy-Genre in the last years. If you liked Black's scripts for Last Boy Scout, Long Kiss Goodnight, Lethal Weapon etc. for their tongue in cheek humor, wicked dialogues and sick ideas, you're gonna love this movie.

The cast delivers and gets the movie going. I don't want to spoil it for you, but Black still has some very cool one-liners and dialogue. Downey Jr is really amazing in this role as your typical looser-criminal kind of guy.

The film struggles a bit at the end, but it was so much fun to watch nonetheless. The Teaser Trailer came out today, so you might want to watch that. Luckily doesn't already show you the best parts.

I really hope that this movie attracts a big audience, because Black has definitely written and directed a highly entertaining movie, showing you Hollywood behind the scenes. Watch this movie!
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Superb acting, great story, fantastic chemistry
Oberrated20 October 2016
'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' was definitely a fun one to view. The team of RDJ, Val, and Michelle have a chemistry that works very well on screen and the story develops well as the run time continues, creating an ever changing engagement to the plot from the audiences' perspective... Easily, Robert Downey Jr. is a fan favorite within the film. Viewing this movie for the first time while watching many other more recently released RDJ movies, it is clear to see how fantastic of an actor he is and how compelling he is as he demands attention with every word or action he projects. On the flip-side of things, he as the narrator made me laugh on multiple occasions... Comparing 'The Nice Guys' to 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang', this film easily beats 'The Nice Guys' out in my book where I simply found this far more entertaining than it.

A very comedic and compelling film for your viewing pleasure. Fun from start to finish yet very clever and intelligent as well.

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Underrated dark comedy from a master.
rossperry-1801914 October 2018
Shane Black is a good writer. Judging by Kiss Kiss Bang bang he is also a fantastic director. This dark comedy is an incredibly underrated comedy and showcases the powerhouse talent of Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black. Laden with one liners and throwaway jokes Kiss Kiss Bang bang should be re watched to get everything in, for only one viewing is not enough. Perhaps this is the reason the film underperformed at the box office. If you are a fan of Robert Downey Jr. you owe it to yourself to watch this film.
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Oozing with style and fabulous performances from Downey Jr. and Kilmer
DonFishies14 June 2006
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was a movie I had heard about and seen trailers at the end of last year. I heard great things, and became even more intrigued when I heard it was written and directed by Shane Black, who created two characters who helped influence my love for film (those two obviously being Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh). But unfortunately, the film came out nowhere near me, and my hopes of seeing the film were basically sunk until the DVD came out. I waited in intense anticipation, and when it finally did come out, I did not hesitate to pick it up.

The film is about Harry Lockhart's (Robert Downey Jr.) accidental trip to L.A. Harry is a thief who manages to get away from the police only to stumble into an acting audition and wooing the studio executives. He gets the part, and is flown to L.A. where he meets "Gay" Perry (Val Kilmer), a private detective hired to help train Harry for his eventual part. On their first training session, they witness the dumping of a body, and things only become complicated as both characters become mixed up in the dumping. Adding to things is Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), Harry's old high school crush who only make things even more complicated for Harry. The film is told in chapters with narration from Downey Jr., frequently lapsing into flashback, freezeframing and backtracking moments.

Without ruining much more of the plot, Black has created a fine pseudo-take on the "buddy cop" genre. His screenplay is littered with thrilling moments and sequences of absolute dark hilarity. While not being a conventional buddy cop film, it has the familiar tired feelings, but feels more original than other entries in the genre. Downey Jr. and Kilmer are absolutely perfect in their roles, and have electrifying chemistry on the screen. Black's written words become so much stronger as the film goes on and these two actors play them out with the single best actor partnering of last year. Both perform excellently, and bring a sense of realism to their roles. Their charisma and class allows Black's script to truly shine. Monaghan, while obviously trying harder than the other two, has nowhere near the same amount of luck as they do in their performances. She comes off a tad bit weak in comparison, but still fares well in her role. The supporting cast, including the likes of Corbin Bernsen, Larry Miller and Shannon Sossamon are all great in their tiny roles as well.

While being in the "buddy cop" genre, the film does have a lot of film noir and pulp fiction added in, both for comedic and dramatic effect. The colour palette for the film is stunning, as are the costumes. If it was not for all of the hilarious moments in the film, this could have made for a fine hard-boiled detective thriller. It has the gritty makings for one, and has plenty of well choreographed sequences to boot. Much of Harry's satiric narration even feels as if it was taken right out of a pulp novel. The film takes from the old school noir elements, adding in elements of old detective stories and films, and adds its own twist to them in order to make them feel more contemporary. While the film is nowhere near as stylishly versed as Rodriguez, Tarantino and Miller's Sin City, it still breathes the same air. The seamless blend makes the film stronger, and much more memorable than others in the genre.

The film is obviously not perfect though. The shortcomings in Monaghan's character are coupled in by a few questionably unrealistic and silly moments in the screenplay. Some may even leave the audience slightly baffled for a few moments. While the lack of realism may work for the most part in the film's favour, the silly moments really take away from it. There are a few subplots that could have been done without, yet they work well in the final product.

My one question that still baffles me about the film is why Warner did not bother releasing it to a wider audience. It's a great little mainstream feeling indie film, oozing with style and fantastic performances from Downey Jr. and Kilmer. A definite candidate for most underrated film of 2005.

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Black Is Back.
MovieAddict20165 July 2006
You've gotta hand it to Shane Black. This is the man who helped create the cop-buddy genre with "Lethal Weapon," then turned around four years later and satirized it with his script for "The Last Boy Scout." A lot of critics didn't like that movie because it was loud, ugly, profane, garish and Tony Scott-ish. But a lot of them simply didn't understand it.

Ditto for "Last Action Hero." It's one of the most daring and original Hollywood films ever produced, and yet somehow many of its stars didn't even appreciate it. Arnold signed on thinking it was just another action flick with some tongue-in-cheek humor (as evidenced by his later comments about the film being "too violent" for kids). But that movie had a lot of brains, and it consistently made fun of the high level of cartoonish violence in any Arnie movie. And when "The Long Kiss Goodnight" rolled around, that is when Black proved once and for all that although his films may contain a surface of male machismo, misogyny, over-the-top violence and profanity, it's his clever writing that always undermines what's happening in the forefront. He's serving Hollywood exactly what they want, while still managing to take jabs at them underneath it all. He took the whole spy-thriller genre for a big twist, but once again a lot of people just didn't "get it" – and it was another bomb. It shoved him into unwilling retirement.

Now, Shane is black with his directorial debut, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," one of the best films I've ever seen. Entertaining from frame one, this gritty, smug little film carries over a lot of the unadulterated heavy violence and sexism inherent in so many action films from the 1980s and early 1990s. But it's all poking fun at itself, in typical Shane fashion. Take the scene where the heroine, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan), runs around a Los Angeles park in a skimpy Playboy outfit, for example. Shane even gives her a gun. Kiss kiss, bang bang.

Robert Downey, Jr. plays Harry Lockhart, a small-time crook from the east coast who gets his partner killed in a toy store robbery and, on the run from cops, stumbles into an open casting audition. He breaks down in an emotional fit in front of the casting director, who thinks it's the best performance he's ever seen. He flies Harry out to LA to prepare for his role in the film, where he meets Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), a gay Hollywood insider who is a private eye of sorts and is also gay. Did I mention he's gay? Because it's made clear that he is. A lot. And in case you didn't get it the first time, they even gave him a Gay nickname. Literally.

But that's the genius of this movie. Kilmer embodies Perry so well that he ends up transforming his character into a giant criticism of gay stereotypes. Perry is a stereotype who is aware of his stereotypes, and embraces them, and makes fun of them - and isn't afraid too, which makes it acceptable for us to laugh. Perry is even, to a point, another means to satirize Black's earlier material. Riggs and Murtaugh solidified the idea of buddies in a buddy-movie – what they should be like, how they should interact, and so on and so forth. To suddenly have a buddy movie with a straight character and a gay character almost seems to be breaking the unwritten Buddy Movie laws that Black helped create.

Perry is one of Kilmer's best and most likable performances, and he plays right into the hands of the wonderful Robert Downey Jr., who is a true revelation. His comedic timing and fourth wall narrative are flawless. His interaction with Kilmer is classic, and one of the best buddy-pairings since "Lethal Weapon." Go figure. It almost makes you crave for a sequel, even though you really don't want to risk them ruining the originality of the original.

"Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is the most obvious of all Shane's self-referential films, because it speaks directly to its audience. ("I saw the last Lord of the Rings, I'm not going to have like seventeen different endings.") But balancing a self-referential narrative in a film like this almost seems a risky thing to do in the post-Tarantino era – the era in which self-reference became "hip" and "cool," but most importantly: financially profitable for the studios. The production companies dished them out and soon the entire concept was burnt out and boring. The smug, self-aware attitude of flicks like "Boondock Saints" became tiresome. But it's only fitting that the father of the genre should be the one to resurrect it.

This film has the best dialogue I've heard in a movie for ages, and the brilliance of it is the fact that it doesn't become overbearingly self-conscious: it's amiable and entertaining.

The film's title is a reference to another movie, by the way. Pauline Kael supposedly saw the term in Italy, where it was used to describe the James Bond character. It effectively sums up exactly what Hollywood wants in their movies – girls, sex, violence. Kiss kiss, bang bang. Black is back.
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"Kiss" this funny film
rparham26 October 2006
In the genre of comedies with a film noir bent there are, well, there is really only one, and that is Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Oh sure, there have been comedies that used the film noir milieu as their setting, but really no film has attempted to be both a comedy and a noir thriller at the same time. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is definitely that, and it does a generally good job of working in both universes, although it is certainly a more effective comedy than a noir, but it gives the latter a good shot.

Harry (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a crook ripping off a department store in New York City (trying to steal a present for his daughter, no less) when a twist of fate causes the alarm to sound and Harry runs for it, happening upon an audition for a film featuring a police detective. The producer (Larry Miller) immediately thinks Harry is method acting and packs him on a plane for L.A. There, at a party, Harry meets "Gay" Perry (Val Kilmer) a real private detective who is a friend of the producer who will give Harry "Detective Lessons." Oh, and he's gay, hence the name. At the same party, Harry runs into a girl who turns out to be his high school unrequited love, Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), whom he tries, and stumbles, to be build a renewed relationship with. When Perry and Harry go out on a surveillance job, as part of Harry's detective classes, they end up with a dead body and men chasing them. The situation becomes even more complicated, with the apparent suicide of Harmony's younger sister and connections to a rich former actor (Corbin Bernsen). What appeared to be just a routine job becomes a complicated web of lies, deceit and bodies.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was written and directed by Shane Black, the writer of the original Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and anyone familiar with his work from those films will instantly recognize his style here. Black is one of a select few (principally only Kevin Smith otherwise) who can write absolutely hilarious dialogue that is interlaced with copious profanity and not have it seem excessive. His gift for witty repartee is impressive, and a great many scenes in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang are absolutely roll on the floor, bust a gut funny as Harry and Perry verbally jab at each other (A good example: Perry: "Do you know what you will find if you look up the word idiot in the dictionary?" Harry: "A picture of me?" Perry: "No, the definition of idiot, which is what you are!"). Most of this film rides on the collaboration of these two characters, and they both pull off their scenes beautifully.

At the same time, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a film noir, complete with voice over narration, and an appropriately twisty plot. These elements of the film are played with a certain amount of levity and self-awareness, especially the narration, which Downey delivers with a wink and a nod to the audience. It plays more like a screenwriters commentary on a narrative, and while it adds to the appropriate feel of a noir, it does so with a unique bent on it. The plot is indeed full of twists and turns, and even when it comes together at the end, we get a sense that everything has been resolved without really knowing every little detail. The light tone, and the strong identification with the characters defuses whatever questions there are left at the end. This is a film that is driven by it's energy and it's dialogue, not its plot.

Downey, Kilmer and Monaghan are all excellent in their roles. Downey's performance is so strong that you can't help but forget his real world troubles and be pulled in by what a terrific performer he is. Kilmer is also great in one of his better performances in a while. He really sells Perry as a hard nosed detective who is more concerned with not getting his nose too far into where it doesn't belong who eventually has to realize that he needs to do the right thing. Monaghan is also effective in her role, playing a somewhat clichéd role in a non-cliché manner. She is a light, breezy comedienne and her scenes with Downey sparkle with chemistry (something missing from countless other film romances these days).

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is no masterpiece, nor does it intend to be. It's an enjoyable, entertaining mix of two genres that is fun to watch and absolutely hilarious at times. There are few comedies out this year better than this one, and it is worth a spin.
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clever but not as fun as it could have been
Buddy-513 August 2006
As its title suggests, ""Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is a film noir spoof whose energy and style compensate for its overall dearth of laughs.

The highly complicated plot begins when Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.), a petty thief living in Manhattan, literally stumbles into a movie acting career while fleeing the police on a heist gone wrong. Before he knows what's happened, he's standing by a pool in Hollywood surrounded by a slew of movie-making hotshots and wannabe starlets including Val Kilmer as a gay private eye and Michelle Monaghan an aspiring actress who also happens to be a childhood chum from Harry's days growing up in Indiana. Then, as if he had suddenly fallen into one of those dime store crime novels, Harry finds himself plunged into a dark mystery involving not one but two unexplained murders.

Writer/director Shane Blake has a great time lampooning not merely the conventions of film noir and Chandler-esquire pulp fiction - the convoluted plotting, the self-conscious dialogue, the smart-alecky narration and the casual popgun violence - but Tinsel Town phoniness as well. In both storyline and style, the film often blurs the fine line separating mundane "reality" from the contrivances and absurdities of movie fiction, most notably by having Harry frequently address the audience directly in his narration.

There's no denying that "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is a high energy lark, filled with creativity and imagination and featuring sharp performances from Downey Jr., Kilmer, Monaghan and a whole host of excellent supporting players. The problem with the film, though, is that for all its cleverness, it really just isn't as witty as it should be. Although we can sense what it is we're supposed to be finding humorous, for some reason the laughs just never seem to come with any great regularity. Too often the humor feels forced and strained so that at best the movie elicits a chuckle here or there instead of a series of full-throated guffaws.

Still, this is a fast-paced, clever, if not particularly memorable film that captures the quintessence of L.A.-derived fiction.
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Never fully grabbed my attention
danielmanson31 January 2021
I'll be honest, I think 6 is a little generous but I'll go with it. Seeing that this film has overwhelmingly good success in the reviews I thought I'd give it a go and as the title suggests, it just never fished me in.

I found the film to be a bit pretentious and very hard to follow and I think this is why I found it difficult to be hooked into the plot. The characters I never truly understood either as there was little depth on them at all. I found the ending to be underwhelming as well. There wasn't any huge twist or anything of that nature so it just kind of falls flat. I personally didn't find it funny, but a lot of reviews state otherwise so since comedy is subjective I maybe wrong on that front, but I felt the "jokes" just never really hit and this could be because I'm spending most my time wondering what the hell is going on.

Overall I definitely expected better. It's not awful it's definitely watchable, but I think this could have been much better if it was just simplified. It didn't need to be as confusing and hard to follow as it was. 6/10 from me personally.
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Trapped by too many "clever" lines but better than the very similar Black-scripted "The Last Boy Scout"
policy13422 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Too much has been written about Robert Downey Jr.'s escapades that you have virtually forgotten what a great actor he is. Here he gets to play the nerdy "best friend" of the hot girl from high school. What Shane Black is trying to do here, I think, is to reverse the image he projected in "The Last Boy Scout". Though that movie was directed by Tony Scott you can see that he has been deeply influenced by him and even more by Quentin Tarantino, another writer turned director. The opening montage where Downey explains in narration about the plot is pure Tarantino.

There is another aspect of this movie that should be mentioned and that is the way you are taken totally by surprise by the way the buddy movie plot runs it course. The detective played by Val Kilmer is less of an enigma but here is at last a Kilmer performance that doesn't make you wanna squirm in your seat. The way he doesn't make his gay character into a queen stereotype and still seem kind of dainty is really hard to pull off but he pulls it off in spades.

The rather unknown actress Michelle Monaghan does make a great impression but a minor quibble with her performance is the way she doesn't seem to transform into anything else than a tough-as-nails woman character who just happens to fall for Downey for no apparent reason, other than the plot requires them to fall in love.

The reason I do wish to recommend the film is because of Downey and Kilmer who is not a strange combination when you think about. 10 years ago I could never have imagined them as a team but I am glad I was proved wrong.
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Great movie with tons of funny scenes. I was rolling in my seat with laughter!
MadameWordsmith9 November 2005
I saw a special screening of the movie yesterday and I thought it was going to be so boring, but I was entirely wrong! It was very funny and well written. It was a refreshing take on screenplays and acting and its great to see Robert Downey Jr. back again. Val Kilmer's role as Gay Perry was also spectacular. Michelle Monaghan looks like she can be Liv Tyler's little sister but with more substance (sorry Liv Tyler fans) I loved the sarcasm and humorous one-liners used throughout the movie. The constant reference to real life actors and movies gave it an almost "real life" feel. I recommend this movie for a good laugh and great narration by Downey, Jr.
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Riffs on hard-boiled detective conventions but conforms to them almost as much; still, it's sly satire with a subversive streak.
Pjtaylor-96-13804413 May 2018
Shane Black's directorial debut, 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)', is a neo-noir thriller that riffs on hard-boiled detective genre conventions but also conforms to them almost as much as it subverts them. It's well-done comedy, several laugh-out-loud moments punctuate a consistently well-written screenplay, but it can feel a little cynical, at times, and the overly complex plot is occasionally difficult to follow. The way the feature plays around with the fourth wall can get a little 'in your face' in the first forty minutes, too. However, this is still an energetic and entertaining feature that brings Black back to his former self, sitting side-by-side with 'Lethal Weapon (1987)' as an engagingly smart action-comedy. It's sly satire with a subversive streak. 8/10
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