Written and directed by Shane Black (the man responsible for the Lethal Weapon movies, The Monster Squad and more), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is everything that you hope it will be and a little bit more. A couple of things stop it from being perfect, there are some scenes that just feel overly indulgent and the razor-sharp script constantly teeters on the edge of being too smart and smug for its own good, but it's a mix of action, thrills and comedy from a man who has shown mastery of this kind of material.
The plot is as follows - a petty criminal (Harry Lockhart, played by Robert Downey Jr.) ends up accidentally auditioning for a movie role and getting the part. He is then put on assignment with a detective (Gay Perry, played by Val Kilmer) and quickly finds out that being a detective isn't all that it's shown to be in the movies. Things soon move from the mundane to the intriguing, however, when the two men see a woman's body being dumped in a lake. The plot quickly thickens, Harry also tries to impress a girl that he's held a candle for all his life (Harmony, played by the beautiful Michelle Monaghan) and bullets start to fly, fingers are removed from hands and dead bodies start to pile up around the two main characters.
Although it's a small movie that more and more people need introduced to every week, I count Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as one of the big contributing factors in the grand resurrection of Robert Downey Jr's career. There had been other roles, of course, but 2005 was the year that showed he could still mix it up in a number of different genres and he still had bucketloads of charisma to spare. Am I overestimating the appeal of the movie? Watch it and then tell me.
Of course, the film isn't just the Downey Jr. show and everyone else puts in equally good performances. Val Kilmer is at his very best in the role of Gay Perry and Michelle Monaghan is absolutely adorable. Solid support comes from a mix of people: Corbin Bernsen, Larry Miller, Shanny Sossamon, Angela Lindvall and more.
It's not action-packed from start to finish so if you're after a new Die Hard or Lethal Weapon movie to love then this won't be it. If, however, you're after even more brilliance from the man who helped create some of the best, and coolest, action films of the last few decades (including the brilliance of The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight) then this is the film that you must watch, purchase and then watch again and again. It's up there with the very best of Black's writing and he proves himself to be no slouch in the directing department either, putting it all together perfectly and moving from start to finish with a constant supply of his usual wit, insults and zippy plotting.
If you've somehow missed this movie so far then do yourself a favour and get to it ASAP.