A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.
If there’s one man that can revive the buddy comedy genre then it’s Shane Black, writer of the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series and helmer of the underrated ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. A genre seemingly resigned to awful Kevin Hart vehicles and a series of misfires, it’s great to see Black back with ‘The Nice Guys’, and it’s even better to report that this is a really good movie. Shane Black is clearly comfortable in this environment and it shows with a sharp script, offbeat comedy and a winning pair of leads who bounce off each other superbly, and this is a really fun film to spend a couple of hours with.
The film is an essence a shaggy dog detective story that calls to mind last year’s ‘Inherent Vice’ or Black’s very own ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, as we join two private investigators who team up to look into the apparent suicide of a fading porn star, Misty Mountains. This set up is displayed in an eye catching opening sequence as a car crashes through a house in the early hours of the morning after the young boy inside steals one of his dad’s porno mags, conveniently starring, yep you guessed it, Misty Mountains herself. Through a series of events involving another missing girl (Margaret Qualley), enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) team up to track her down after discovering a series of thugs on her trail, and a tie to the porn star case. Crowe and Gosling make for a superb double team, with great chemistry and strong camaraderie to deliver Black’s lines to the highest standard. Crowe is no stranger to this kind of neo-noir territory after his breakout role in the 1997 masterpiece ‘L.A. Confidential’, but he’s on more comedic form here, albeit Gosling gets most of the standout moments.
Black’s script is just about the right level of bizarre, introducing a plot that grows arms and legs with each new development before suddenly making sense at the end. Crowe and Gosling are both standouts, but spare a thought for Angourie Rice as March’s daughter Holly who more than holds her own amongst more celebrated stars. This trio are excellent, but one area ‘The Nice Guys’ falls down in is in a supporting cast that isn’t particularly memorable beyond the cleverly cast Kim Basinger as a shady DOJ official. Despite this minor quibble, ‘The Nice Guys’ is a well written buddy comedy, very funny and entertaining throughout and it’s good to see another pure Shane Black film in cinemas after the disappointing ‘Iron Man 3’.
Directed By: Shane Black
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Margaret Qualley, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Murielle Telio, Keith David, Kim Basinger, Beau Knapp, Ty Simpkins, Yaya DaCosta, Jack Kilmer, Hannibal Buress and Lois Smith