Kiss Judge David Johnson deadly. He dares you.
Our review of Kiss Me Deadly (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection, published June 17th, 2011, is also available.
The answer to the future lies in their past.
It's your boilerplate straight-to-video espionage thriller—with a twist.
Facts of the Case
Crack NATO intelligence officer Jacob Keane (Robert Gant), is an effective human weapon, but opts out of the industry following the fall of the Berlin Wall. As such he transitions to the next logical profession: fashion photographer.
One day his past catches up with him, when his former lover and partner (Shannen Doherty) shows up, missing a big chunk of her memory. Using intel from their former NATO handler (John Rhys-Davies, The Chucacabra Terror), they realize that someone is after specific codes in their heads, to unlock a bank account packed silly with cash.
Forever altered now is the nice little life Keane has built himself—raking in cash taking pictures of scantily clad twenty-somethings and nurturing a successful relationship with his boyfriend.
Yes, Kiss Me Deadly is not your typical action movie, but it's not a "gay film." It just happens to star a character that happens to be gay. Or maybe that is the definition of a "gay film." Regardless, Kiss Me Deadly isn't obsessed with messaging or social preaching. It is what it is, an action movie featuring a gay man in the lead. The absence of the typical lady-boinking super-agent you'd find in most similar-themed films is about as far as you'll get with regards to subversion.
So let's move on and judge the film the way I'm certain he filmmakers want it to be judged: as an effective slice of espionage escapism. With that rubric intact, sadly, Kiss Me Deadly falls short. The central plotline is serviceable, I suppose, but the amnesia gimmick has been mercilessly flogged and the payoff reveal of who's behind the plot and why he's doing it isn't anything special.
Action-wise, the film really stumbles. There's a slow-moving car chase scene and the briefest of fistfights and the big explosion in the beginning, but that's about it. When you count a power-walking foot chase with a monk as an action highlight, then you know you're not going to be included in the next MTV movie awards "Best Action Scene" nomination cycle.
As the lead agent, Robert Gant is cool enough. He's a big dude, comfortable with kneeing bad guys in the groin and talking tough. The fashion photographer thing seemed a stretch since he was such a kick-ass NATO agent, but whatever. Rhys-Davies gruffly chews through his and flaunts that in-charge, elder statesman attitude he draws a paycheck for. The weak link? Shannen Doherty seems to be suffering the after-effects of whatever drug the villains slipped her for the entirety of the film.
The DVD is decent: a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix are joined by a director's commentary and a robust making-of feature.
An "alternative action movie"? I guess that might be fair, but Kiss Me Deadly nevertheless disappoints.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Liberation Entertainment
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