Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Courtesy of his drug-bust demons, Robert Downey Jr. started the Zeroes behind bars. Ten summers later, he’d be headlining one of 2010’s biggest blockbusters. Iron man, indeed. But Kiss Kiss Bang Bang fans know this success was due in 2005 after seeing this criminally mishandled, zippy modern-noir action-comedy with Tommy-gun banter.
Harry (Downey Jr.) is an East Coast thief stumbling into an acting audition while on the run from the cops. Sent to L.A. after winning the role, Harry is caught up in a real murder mystery involving a childhood sweetheart and Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), a fussbudget detective with whom Harry is studying for the part.
Downey Jr. and Kilmer make one of the least likely, but most inspired, buddy pairings of the Zeroes. Harry endures as many beatings and torture as Mel Gibson in all four Lethal Weapons combined, but his greatest pain is that which he throws at himself. Kilmer is a rare treat — a metrosexual alpha male throwing around as many finger snaps and hissy fits as punches, bullets and withering insults.
Writer-director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) developed a self-loathing for slick action films he churned out (once earning $4 million for his The Long Kiss Goodnight screenplay) and put himself out of play for nine years before this empowering mission statement of artistic stamina.
Its wink-wink eyelids felt heavy from having seen so much in Hollywood and it turned out to be the best accidental detective story since The Big Lebowski.