“The Nice Guys” (2016)
Written and Directed by Shane Black
Featuring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Kim Basinger, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer
“You’re the worlds worst detective.” (Holly to her dad Holland played by Ryan Gosling.)
If you needed further proof that Shane Black is back look no further than this months “The Nice Guys” featuring the pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a hired thug and a really lousy private detective.
Black, the writer of such buddy movies as Lethal Weapon (1987), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and most recently Iron Man 3 (2013) brings us Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) who like most Black anti-heroes are looking for something else in their downward spiraling lives. Holland has some light in the tunnel he lives in with his smart streetwise daughter Holly (played by newcomer and surely a star on the rise, Angourie Rice), who are both grieving the loss of their wife and mother as well as their family home. Then there is Crowes Jackson Healy a thug who will solve problems by beating them up – for a price of course.
Set in Los Angeles in 1977 this is a dark comedy action thriller with a hint of neo-noir and a plot that really doesn’t make much sense especially in the final act – but plot has never been a part of the Shane Black Universe, you just have to trust in the characters and delve into their dark lives as best as possible and hope for some kind of resolution in the climax. Well as close to a resolution as possible.
The film moves at a lightning pace and this is surely Crowe, Gosling and Black at the top of their games in terms of performance, writing and direction. Joining them is veteran cinematographer Philippe Rousselot who moves the camera and follows the action like a pro, veteran character actor Kim Basinger (reteaming with her L.A. Confidential star) who is as close to a femme fatale character as you will get and iconic character actor Keith David who shows up long enough to have an unforgettable fight with Crowe at the launch party of a porn parody – I wont spoil the name but lets just say its not the main character’s nose that grows.
There are obvious connections to the “Odd Couple” (1968), “Chinatown” (1974) and many other films that Black loves and loves to spoof, but this ultra-violent coupling is worth the admission price. In the coming months the movies being released are going to be overblown eye candy competing for the best spectacle of cities being reduced to ashes but in the Nice Guys it’s the action, quick banter and hard case characters that will make this movie one of the best and most memorable of the year.
Go see it now!