Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

(2005) *** 1/2 R
102 min. Warner Brothers. Director: Shane Black. Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Ali Hillis.
Writer-director Shane Black's Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Black wrote the influential buddy-cop movie Lethal Weapon and the underlooked The Long Kiss Goodnight, but also overkilled with the profane The Last Boy Scout and silly Last Action Hero. Finally, Black gets to direct his own script, and the undiluted real deal suggests that Black's action-comedy precocity may only just be hitting its stride. The postmod neo-noir employs stylish photography, whip-crack dialogue, and outstanding leading performances to tell a tale of our unfortunate American tendency to believe in B.S. for fun and profit. An outstanding Robert Downey, Jr. plays a magician, thief, actor, private investigator, and borderline idiot who runs afoul of murderous mayhem while reacquainting himself with a lost love. Michelle Monaghan plays the friendly femme fatale, and Val Kilmer does some of his best work as a gay P.I. who shows Downey's character the ropes. With his supremely and ridiculously entertaining comeback, Black proves that the cheese stands alone.
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