The Nice Guys
Shane Black has one hell of a story; his career in Hollywood could be a film itself. The writer and director has had two comebacks after fading into the world of addiction. He started his career as the writer of Lethal Weapon, and his career was riddled with big deals, box office flops, and many indies until his previous film Iron Man 3 (which he directed) put Black back on the map; now The Nice Guys, his newest film, marks the true rebirth of a quality filmmaker.
The Nice Guys is a buddy-cop comedy set in 1970s Los Angeles. LA back then was immersed in the industry of pornography, so naturally this story revolves around that world. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a clumsy PI, and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a thug-for-hire. Despite not really clicking together, they both team up to investigate the disappearance of Amelia (Margaret Qualley), an actress with heavy ties to murdered people of the porn industry.
Shane Black writes a great script with the help of Anthony Bagarozzi. The mystery aspect is intriguing, the characters are incredibly well written, and the dialogue is snappy, smart, and funny. If I have to reproach something it’s really the solution of the case; it’s not necessarily a disappointing one, but given the quality and electricity seen in the rest of the film, you do hope for more. Besides that, it’s a joyous ride that fully explores all aspects of its characters. Some people will certainly enjoy diving fully into the journey of the characters, but others might certainly feel that it was not necessary and that the running time is being stretched. I personally stand on the side of appreciating Black taking his time with the characters, it helps the audience attach to them more, and it makes the experience of the film stick to you for when the credits roll.
The pairing of Gosling and Crowe is a very strange one, but I have to confess that it somehow works. Crowe seems more enthusiastic than in Les Miserables, but his gruffness and grunting still makes it seem like he’s not all that into his role. Having done the very similar film L.A. Confidential almost two decades back, the audience was maybe expecting that passionate and ambitious Crowe. Gosling on the other hand turns the dial way up on his goof-mode, proving to be the battery that keeps the film so upbeat. Gosling is great at both comedy and drama, but his best performances in both genres come from when plays a more subtle character; he is incredibly funny in The Nice Guys, but you do feel like he overdoes his silliness. But the real hero of film is Angourie Rice, who plays March’s daughter Holly. Rice’s character is written as this intelligent, mature, and actually useful girl; she doesn’t seem like the damsel in distress that heroes’ daughters usually end up being; she is key in the solving the mystery. Rice does a phenomenal job in her exchanges with both Crowe and Gosling; she definitely steals the spotlight from them more than once.
In the end, The Nice Guys is a solid buddy-cop film. The story is intriguing, and the cast is solid. The best news of all is that Shane Black has returned with the potential to churn out some great movies.