A career hit man finds himself the target in "Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang)," a stylish genre hodgepodge in which lethal violence and acceptably limned sentimentality cohabit with varying degrees of success. Contempo London-set pic has a fetching '60s retro feel but is defiantly uneven in its plotting, relying too much on generic notions.

A career hit man finds himself the target in “Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang),” a stylish genre hodgepodge in which lethal violence and acceptably limned sentimentality cohabit with varying degrees of success. Contempo London-set pic has a fetching ’60s retro feel but is defiantly uneven in its plotting, relying too much on generic notions of family ties and generalizations about beauty to be found in an ugly world. In rendering semi-sordid proceedings light rather than lugubrious, the excellent jazzy and choral score by composer John Dankworth cannot be over-estimated.

When Felix (Stellan Skarsgard) decides to go legit after 25 years of shooting people, his colleagues set out to kill him. While dodging bullets, Felix must deal with his wry, pregnant girlfriend; his wry, ailing dad; and Bubba (Chris Penn), the 33-year-old only son of a gangster who never let his beloved boy out of the house. Gripping opening chase and murder in a public swimming pool is jauntily lensed. However, once Felix announces his retirement and accepts the job of baby-sitting for pudgy, naive Bubba, pic leans more on style than substance to hang together. Production design is snappy, acting earnest.

Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang)

U.K.

Production

A D'Vision/Wild Bunch (in France)/Sky Pictures (in U.K.) presentation of a Pagoda Films production, in association with TPC and M&M Prods. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by James Richardson. Executive producers, Norma Heyman, William Turner. Co-producer, Sheila Fraser Milne. Directed, written by Stewart Sugg.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Tony Pierce-Roberts; editor, Jim Clarke; music, John Dankworth, awayTEAM; production designer, Eve Stewart; art director, Tom Read; costume designer, Odile Dicks-Mireaux; associate producers, Jim Reeve, Kim Magnusson; casting, Leo Davis. Reviewed at L'Entrepot, Paris, Dec. 2, 2001. (In Dinard Film Festival -- competing, and Taormina Film Festival.) Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Stellan Skarsgard, Chris Penn, Paul Bettany, Sienna Guillory, Allan Corduner, Martine McCutcheon, Jacqueline McKenzie, Peter Vaughan.
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