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The Val Kilmer Scene In Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang That Went Too Far

Robert Downey Jr. might be better known for his role as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the star obviously bagged a number of other hits under his belt over the course of his sprawling career. One of the most underrated films in his roster partnered him with Val Kilmer in 2005's "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," directed by Shane Black. It sees Downey Jr.'s petty criminal Harry Lockhart accidentally wander into a movie audition, winning the role, and being asked to work with detective "Gay" Perry van Shrike to develop his performance.

From there, the story spirals into a murky web of intrigue as this bizarre dynamic duo winds up looking into a real murder. Along the way, Harry meets an old crush from his childhood, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), who accidentally gets involved with their investigation. It's a (Shane) black comedy, so although Downey Jr. and Kilmer have brilliantly hilarious chemistry in their unlikely partnership, it does get pretty dark at times. 

However, the grimier aspects to the story only make the comedy in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" land even better, although some moments definitely haven't aged as well as others. The banter between Harry and Perry still works a treat, but there's one scene with Val Kilmer that went too far.

Perry shoots a thug

One of the most memorable moments in the film is when Harry and Perry are captured by Harlan Dexter (Corbin Bernsen) and Mr. Fire (Rockmond Dunbar). Unfortunately for Harry, Mr. Fire picks a particularly grim method of torture — choosing to electrocute him using jumper cables attached to his manhood. Ouch. While he's screaming in pain, Perry questions why Mr. Fire chose that torture method over something else, suggesting that the thug is gay — something Mr. Fire quickly takes offence to and tortures Harry with a higher voltage. Double ouch.

Perry continues to take this too far, pretending to try and seduce Mr. Fire and even gestures towards his own crotch. Luckily, he literally has a small revolver hidden in his pants and shoots Mr. Fire several times. Now, it's not what Perry says to the thug that takes things too far, nor is it the way Harry is tortured. After all, it's an effective set piece that definitely gets the audience squirming, but both of these things happening at the same time is too overwhelming. Perry trying to get inside the thug's head and play up to his homophobia makes sense, but it's trying to do too much at once with Harry also screaming in pain.

The scene is a muddled mess of clever writing, "a homophobe would never check there," and a desire to heavily lean into the darker, noir side to the story. Thankfully, it doesn't completely ruin the film.