WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2016)
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Kim Basinger
The man who gave us Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and…Iron Man 3, returns with The Nice Guys – entrenched in the late 1970s, complete with ‘taches, questionable fashion choices, debauchery and a kicking soundtrack. Another buddy cop movie as two seemingly opposite characters are forced together to work for the greater good (one determined, one drunk) – a great device when used correctly, question is – was it done correctly in The Nice Guys? Yes and no.
The chemistry between Crowe and Gosling is great, and one that I was interested in seeing unfold. They bounce off each other well, and provide some great comic moments throughout.
Crowe got big and burly as Jackson Healy, scowling through most scenes (not much acting then, more real life Russell) and showed a comedy side not often allowed out. Gosling played the naïve, drunk Holland March all too well and like Crowe, showed a different side to his repertoire. There are jokes aplenty throughout and thankfully the majority hit. The scene of Crowe interrupting Gosling on the toilet is played out brilliantly, and there are great trade-offs and one liners scattered throughout – and the quick shot of Gosling appearing in a mermaid tank is priceless. Angourie Rice is fun as Gosling’s daughter, though the idea of making her a key player in the detective work was a bit shoehorned in for me.
The plot of the movie gets more convoluted as the movie progresses, and it’s not immediately clear how it all ties in – how does Amelia know Misty etc.? The first two acts set up the investigation and it’s (many) twists and turns, however the third act falls into all-too familiar territory and rushes to get its story across, which only leads to an unsatisfactory ending sequence, with story moments rehashed. The first 30 minutes of the movie is great, as we are introduced to the characters and they blast into action, then it tails off as Gosling’s drunk, unreliable character falls into the right place at all times, and Crowe’s hard edged heavy finds his noble side after all the violence has occurred.
This hampered the pacing of the movie also, which probably could have done with being 20-30 minutes shorter. The opening salvo leads into a meddling investigation which seems to be leading nowhere (in the movie and to the viewer) with more plot beats introduced without others having been fully explained. Then the final act comes about with a bang and ends again on a lull.
Shane Black captures the feeling of the sleaze of 1970’s Los Angeles well, and the movie looks like it could have come from the era, but the story could’ve been set at any point and it wouldn’t have made a huge difference. That being said, the costumes, locations, references and atmosphere were spot on.
The Nice Guys is an entertaining movie, with lots of laughs coming out of it, but it struggles with itself throughout and has too many moments of undecided story. Crowe and Gosling are terrific together, it’s a shame the writing let them down.
November 11th 2016