'Iron Man 3' director Shane Black and Robert Downey, Jr

‘Iron Man 3’ director Shane Black and Robert Downey, Jr. paired up once before this summer’s global blockbuster superhero film.

In 2005, RDJ starred as Harry Lockhart in ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ an energetic and entertaining directorial debut from Shane Black.

Black first achieved fame as a screenwriter, having penned numerous successful films including: ‘Lethal Weapon,’ ‘The Last Boy Scout,’ and ‘Last Action Hero’ and may also be recognizable to Flixnerds as the dirty-joke-telling Hawkins in the original ‘Predator.’

Where ‘Iron Man 3’ succeeds is in Black’s choice to let Robert Downey, Jr (RDJ) flex his improvisational and comedic skills in portraying Tony Stark. The performance has a looser, personality-flavored vibe that the other films involving Iron Man didn’t explore quite as much.

In ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,’ RDJ’s character Harry serves as a narrator for the incredibly outrageous series of events that take him from being a small time crook to a semi-skilled private detective over the course of four days.

While burgling a New York toy store searching for a Christmas present for his nephew, Harry and his accomplice trip the store alarm and draw the attention of police. While evading the cops, Harry stumbles into a casting call for actors and, in his emotionally excited state, nails the audition. The clueless producers think he’s a talented Method actor.

A film producer (played by Larry Miller) quickly sends Harry off to Los Angeles for a crash course in detective work to prepare for his new role as a P.I. in the movie he’ll be starring in.

A Hollywood private eye charged with teaching Harry the basics of the trade, enter “Gay” Perry (Val Kilmer), a famous investigator to the stars. And yes, he’s also a homosexual (which leads to several jokes at the expense of heterosexual men being ignorantly homophobic.)

‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ moves quickly along and soon, we’re knee-deep with Harry and Perry in a plot involving murder, money, unrequited love, and the Hollywood movie scene. There’s a lot going on in this movie.  It’s refreshingly creative and interesting throughout.

First-time director Shane Black’s movie takes liberal swipes at the movie business and Hollywood insiders, while engaging us in a convoluted murder-mystery and the plight of his two very flawed lead characters.

‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ should have done better at the box office upon its release, but the outrageous jokes and prolific profanity may have steered audiences away. It’s an unheralded dark comedy that critics liked, and fans of RDJ and Val Kilmer should not miss. Kilmer is fantastic in a role that easily could have been mishandled by a lesser talent.

Shane Black shows us again, why screenwriters can make great directors. Black gets all of his actors to breathe energy and believability into a story that just gets more and more bizarre as it clips along.

‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ is available on iTunes. Highly recommended!


 

With the phenomenal success of ‘Iron Man 3’ at the box office, audiences will be seeing more of director Shane Black. He has signed on to write and direct a big screen version of ‘Doc Savage,’ about a crime fighting adventurer based on the pulp novels and radio plays from the 1930’s.

 

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