Bit of an odd film this one, halfway between thriller, comedy and satire on Hollywood. That’s three halves, which is a bit much to cram into any movie and this does suffer as a result. As a comedy it works because Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer are very watchable; as a thriller it passes but it’s complicated and a tad contrived; and as a satire, it’s very clever, but it loses its bite halfway through.
The thing that makes this movie stand out though, is that is finally debunks the myth that Americans don’t understand sarcasm. Not only is the sarcastic interplay between the two main characters well-scripted, obviously with an understanding of how wit actually works, but it’s excellently delivered, especially by Kilmer. One of the elements you need to make sarcasm work is a rapid, understated delivery which fools someone into thinking you’re telling him the truth. Kilmer has it and uses it well.
The only downside to the film is Downey Jr’s frequently tiresome narration. It’s hackneyed. Yes, the self-referential stuff is funny (“I’ve seen Lord of the Rings – we aren’t going to have seventeen different endings”), but it frequently interrupts the smooth flow of the story. There’s also quite a bit of swearing and some nudity, so depending on whether you rate or slate a film based on that, this might not be your cup of tea.
Watch it for: the Russian roulette scene – shocking but hilarious (“What? There was only an eight per cent chance…” “You idiot, who taught you math?”).
Skip it if: you don’t like Robert Downey Jr, or hearing the F word.
Jongudmund’s rating 7.5/10
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