At The Movies
The Nice Guys ★★★★★
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer, Angourie Rice, Kim Basinger
What do you get when you combine a missing girl, dead porn stars, a chief justice and the american car industry? You get director Shane Black’s return to form with ‘The Nice Guys’.
The story takes place in the seedy smog infused city of Los Angeles in the late 1970’s. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) are two buffoons jointly investigating a missing girl case. In the process they unwittingly find themselves in the centre of a conspiracy plot that reaches all the way to the highest echelons of the US government. At it’s heart this is a detective story paying tribute to the era genre classics such as ‘The French Connection’ with plenty of twists and turns throughout.
In a way this film is director Shane Black’s return to his roots in the ‘buddy action’ genre which launched his film career (as a 23 year old he wrote the script for ‘Lethal Weapon’). The dialogue in this film is very sharp and entertaining and is made all the better by the great performances and onscreen chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. I will go so far as to say that ‘The Nice Guys’, and not ‘Iron Man 3’, is Shane Blacks true big screen follow up to his excellent directorial debut ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. Holland March (Gosling) is an inept alcoholic private investigator who spends more time trying to sucker his clients out of money than solving cases. He also has a teenage daughter (the up and coming Angourie Rice) who has no choice but to be the adult in this dysfunctional father daughter relationship. Ryan Gosling is hilarious as the drunken and cowardly but not as inept as she seems March. A lot of his performance revolves around physical comedy and this combined with his many quirky facial expressions creates a lot of funny moments in the film. Jackson Healy (Crowe) is an inept recovering alcoholic private investigator wannabe. His main source of income comes from using his fists. Primarily to punch people in the face with. If someone is stalking you and you’d like that person dissuaded, then Jackson Healy is your man.
This is a role that Russell Crowe fits into well and seems to genuinely enjoy playing. To counter Ryan Goslings physicality Crowe opts to give a more subdued and deadpan performance. This approach allows both actors to play off of each other to great comedic effect.
Unlike characters in other buddy action films these two are not your typical good guys. They’re not particularly good at their jobs (otherwise mundane tasks nearly cost them their lives), they’re not particularly brave (when confronted with danger they prefer to do the sensible thing and walk away) and they’re not that particularly nice (roughing people up for information is never beneath them). But despite all their flaws they have hearts of gold and deep down are searching for redemption. Even while kicking and screaming you know that at the end of the day they will do the right thing.
‘The Nice Guys’ is a hilariously dark comedy buddy action film. You can expect plenty of witty dialogue, action, violence and gallows humour. Those of you who loved director Shane Black’s ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ but weren’t too keen on ‘Iron Man 3’ will be very pleased with the final result.
Reviewed by Andrew Fisun