Kiss Me Deadly Review

Kiss Me Deadly is an interesting noir title in that you are effectively watching a villain as the lead. Not saying Mike is downright evil or anything but he is basically a shady guy who ends up getting tangled with the actual crime syndicate and that ends up leading to a whole lot of trouble. The story is good but it is another title that is held back by the main character. It can also get a bit gritty and gruesome for an old school noir title like this.

The movie starts off with Mike on a drive when he comes across a lady who is running for her life. She says her name is Christina and to drop her off at the next bus stop and then to forget her. However, if they don’t make it, then he must remember her. Unfortunately the two are captured by a group of villains who torture Christina to death and nearly bump Mike off too but they get sloppy and he survives the encounter. Mike has no idea what is even going on but he figures it has to be something big when he is questioned by the cops right away. The mysterious villains also start to threaten him into dropping the case so now he wants to look into it more.

Mike runs a bit of a shady business where he tries to find proof on if a husband or wife is cheating on the other. He has a secretary who takes care of the seducing while he begins to work on playing both parties against each other. It’s definitely not the most noble kind of work and the cops call him out on it but Mike doesn’t care. He will keep doing this so he can get more and more money as needed. This is one of the reasons why you just find it hard to root for the guy. His secretary Velda even basically begs him to let her stop doing this kind of work but he refuses which really tells you what kind of guy he is.

Now there are some fun parts to this. When the villains show up to intimidate him, Mike is able to respond in kind and doesn’t fold so easily. The guy makes threats of his own and has a lot of shady connections throughout the city. So that part is pretty neat and it makes for an interesting wrinkle into the mix but at the same time it just doesn’t erase the less desirable traits he has. It’s just too bad he couldn’t keep the tough attitude while beating up the enemies but still staying somewhat heroic. It would have really worked well. By the end he ultimately starts looking rather sad and defeated as he finally tells the cops that he was out of his depth. It wasn’t a great way for his journey to end.

The early torture scene was also really intense. Definitely not the way you expect to start this film off. For the most part it’s got a rather sullen atmosphere and it’s more about how everyone appears to be suspicious but it’s not generally all that dark or violent. Perhaps they wanted to start the film off with a bang but they definitely could have chosen a less gruesome way to do this. Additionally if you’re friends with the lead then you’re probably doomed but that’s usually how it goes.

The dialogue here is sharp as always though. I love all the veiled threats and how everyone is talking really tough. There is a lot of sarcasm thrown around and the fact that Mike is so tough does lend itself well to the banter. All of those things are good points within the movie. It definitely goes by rather quickly even though it is a long movie. It all feels like one well connected adventure and that element of the story, the lead having a lot of connections is one that they should bring back. Mike may be a questionable private investigator but he is still a PI so when the villains go after him it’s nice that he has some way to defend himself and figure out what is happening.

Meanwhile Velda definitely should have quit the business right away. Ultimately things are never going to go all that well for her in this business and so the sooner she gets out the better. Lily is an interesting character but again not one you would want to trust very much. She is always ready to put on the charm to try and get Mike to do what she wants but he’s not the kind of guy this will usually work for although he will enjoy the situation when it’s something he would have done anyway. She is desperate as she runs from the villains but that’s never really the approach you want to go with.

Mike’s friend Nick was a nice guy even though you knew he was doomed. I like that the guy always had Mike’s back at least and was eager to help. If anything Mike was using him since he didn’t really let Nick know just how dangerous this whole thing was. If he had been straight with Nick then things could have been different but Mike is all about using those who are close to him. Definitely a shame when you think about it.

The supporting characters were solid here. I liked the villain with the glasses who was always very polite but as one of the ringleaders of the villains you knew that he couldn’t be trusted. Definitely someone you had to be cautious with but the demeanor was pretty funny. Then there is the main cop who doesn’t get along with Mike at all. Their first impression was certainly lousy which didn’t help matters for either of them for a long while there. Still he was okay at his job. I think the cops could have ultimately done more on their end but it’s not like they had a lot of help either so they were on their own since Mike wasn’t cooperating.

The ending here definitely escalates really quickly though. The special effects for this were fun, it was like we suddenly entered a sci-fi movie or something. I wasn’t expecting that at all although in a way that’s why it worked. It just hits you like a sudden tank and that could have really tied in as a sequel with characters picking up the pieces. The film does work as another example of the viewer not knowing all the answers since we’re looking at things from the lead’s point of view though so I understand the appeal there.

Overall, I think a noir film that is basically villain against villain could be really good. The film would just need to lean into that more by having him be a full fledged villain. He certainly acts the part like when he shoves a drawer closed while someone’s hand is in it and slaps around a poor receptionist. This guy doesn’t play nice and won’t take no for an answer when he wants answers. You just need to do that without him sacrificing the main heroine’s dignity and I could also do without the torture. This ends up being a weaker noir title as a result and you’re better off skipping it for now.

Overall 4/10

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