Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd:
Only Stanley Kubrick's second work, 'Killer's Kiss' comes before what is considered by Kubrick as his first mature work, The Killing' and I have to admit I was expecting this to be nothing more than a curiosity. What I got though, whilst by no means a great film, was a piece of work that shows a great talent learning on the job. The film from a storytelling point of view is a little underdeveloped and the characters are pretty nondescript, the performances themselves are distinctly below average in my opinion.
But what 'Killer's Kiss' has is a director that understood the genre his film was a part of, the language is their even if he hasn't mastered it. The structure is clearly reminiscent of classic film noir, voice over narration and flashbacks are prominent in the film but the flashbacks especially feel like they could have been better implemented on a technical level, the rippling image looking a little shoddy in my mind. The use of shadows and lighting in film noir is expertly delivered though and there are numerous sequences in the film that are really well delivered. Whether it is the early boxing sequence, the ballet sequence of a roof top chase that leads to a big fight in a mannequin factory there is no doubt in my mind that Kubrick had already gone a long way to mastering the visual language of cinema if nothing else. The film is a treat for the eyes as far as I'm concerned and the set pieces make it a very good watch even if the story and characters leave more than a little to be desired.