A gay spy thriller cobbled together from bits and pieces of the amnesiac-on-the-lam Bourne series and any number of other fight-the-system actioners, Kiss Me Deadly is a straight-to-video thriller misfire starring Robert Grant and Shannen Doherty, directed by the Emmy-nominated Ron Oliver (Degrassi: The Next Generation).
Grant (Nip/Tuck, The Closer) stars as Jacob Keane, a former spy who now… works as a fashion photographer? Yes, seriously. Jacob gets drawn back into the shadowy world of international espionage when his former partner Marta (Doherty) reappears after 17 years, her memory erased. With no idea who wants them dead, or why, Jacob and Marta elude rub-out from a pair of ruthless assassins working for an unknown entity, and then start trying to unravel a labyrinthine backplot. Their up-the-ladder investigations lead them back into mortal danger, and eventually cast light on a mysterious villain looking to gain classified information at any cost.
At 82 minutes, Kiss Me Deadly is lean and mean, but still all knees and elbows, narratively speaking. Grant is OK, but not given much in the way of smart dialogue. The other acting here — even though recognizable pro John Rhys-Davies also pops up in a small supporting role — is uneven, and not particularly aided by soap opera-type editing, wherein dramatic information is conveyed in a series of ever-closer close-ups of a telephone answering messages and frozen, nostrils-flared protagonist. Naturally, one of the bad guys also sports outrageously blonde, spiked hair, just so that he’s more easily identifiable in crowd-stuffed chase scenes. Interestingly, the parts of the movie that work best are probably the relationship stuff; Jacob’s boyfriend is understandably weirded out when his beau shows up with a gal and demands the keys to his car, telling him he can’t explain the situation. It’s as an actioner — even a mid-grade, budget-pinched anonymous thing — that Kiss Me Deadly kind of falls flat.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Kiss Me Deadly is presented in 16×9 widescreen, with Dolby digital 2.0 and Dolby digital 5.1 English language tracks. A feature-length audio commentary track with Oliver kicks
off the bonus materials, and the director keeps the anecdotal patter coming at a fast and furious pace, talking about the movie’s New Zealand shoot, local casting (one actor scored a role after showing up with a broken nose, just days after he’d been discovered in bed with his best friend’s girlfriend, he confessed), and the emergency drafting of extra bit players, like the twin brother of the production’s main driver. Oliver cops to hating gratuitous nudity, and being embarassed by a scene of it in the movie, but also talks about the freedom of local actresses with their bodies. (“Once you get south of the equator, everything changes,” he opines.) The unintentionally hilarious high point may come when Oliver, sizing up a plot twist within the movie, says, “I think there’s something inherently sleazy about two guys making out in a bathroom stall.” Other supplemental extras include a 23-minute making-of featurette
comprised of back-slapping interview tidbits (“I like to think it’s incredibly European, in its own way,” says Doherty) interspersed with lots of
clips from the movie; the theatrical trailer; and previews for other gay-themed here! and Liberation Entertainment releases like Kiss the Bride, starring former Doherty 90210 classmate Tori Spelling. To
purchase Kiss Me Deadly on DVD via Amazon, click here. C- (Movie) B- (Disc)