The Nice Guys
Shane Black takes us back to a simpler time where action movies didn’t rely on world ending stakes to convey drama with The Nice Guys.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good old end of the World scenario as much as the next person but I do acknowledge that they are all too common in films today so it is nice to get a break from that with something that feels as old school as this does.
The plot is fairly simple on the surface; a detective and a hired enforcer team-up to track down the daughter of a government official while finding that her disappearance is tied into the death of a porn star.
The unlikely team-up comes in the form of detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling and enforcer Jackson Healy) Russell Crowe and it definitely does look like a strange pairing but it completely works. Both actors throw themselves so completely into their roles with Gosling giving a dimwitted performance with just enough signs of intelligence to explain why he hasn’t been killed before now and Crowe action so casual about his incredibly violent methods while looking for some kind of redemption for the things that he’s done.
Nothing about these two characters takes any kind of focus, there are no long drawn out scenes where Healy questions if there’s more to life than this or March considers the consequences of his actions. This isn’t that kind of film and the focus is on the cast that is being worked on as well as the unlikely friendship that develops between them.
Gosling and Crowe bounce off each other brilliantly with their characters being complete opposites with just enough in common to give them reason to stay around one another outside of the job they’re working for.
The back and forth banter is really well written and the actors have a lot of chemistry with one another which makes them one of the most memorable movie pairings I’ve seen in a while. Shane Black was smart to keep the focus on them over the story as the entertainment value of Crowe and Gosling just bouncing off one another is absolute gold.
Surprisingly the cast is propped up by March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) who gets caught up in everything and basically becomes the third lead. Rice is excellent playing a precocious teenager in the middle of a situation that she is definitely too young for without ever becoming annoying. There’s a great ongoing joke built up around her being more competent than her father in a lot of ways and her ability to understand what is going on while using her initiative to adapt to it makes her a fascinating watch. She looks like a fairly typical “innocent child” type but is definitely far from it. Her chemistry with Gosling and Crowe is very strong as well which makes her an excellent addition.
There are plenty of memorable moments throughout such as the questioning of a protest group pretending to be dead or investigating a party full of porn stars. These scenes are where the characters have an opportunity to really shine and there are lots of laughs to be had in the process.
The setting is the 1970s and every chance to make good use of that is taken. Everything looks distinctly 70s from the clothing to the hairstyles. Gosling sports a really awesome pornstar moustache and Crowe’s faded blue leather jacket is so distinctive that it could end up being iconic someday.
I found the execution of the story to be somewhat lacking. The film takes a while to build up enough momentum and then has trouble maintaining it. In general it feels like the whole thing runs about 20 minutes too long with the ending in particular dragging on longer than it should. There are a number of points where it seems like the film is about to end and then it continues on.
Another issue is the lack of decent villains. Since most of the film is a whodunit it makes sense for the main antagonists not to be revealed until the end of the film but when they finally are the buildup isn’t completely justified since they are so forgettable.
None of the shortcomings do enough to completely derail the enjoyment but the pacing was definitely something I had trouble with. Despite that I think that this is an important film that deserves to exist since it feels like a relic of a bygone age. Maybe if this could get made then it’s possible that similar throwbacks to spring up and revive the old school action film in some way. A guy can dream anyway.
A ludicrously entertaining film that owes a lot to the comedic chemistry between its two leads. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe carry the film brilliantly and create a really memorable movie pairing. With the surprise addition of the young Angourie Rice a dynamic is created that won’t soon be forgotten. The film does struggle with maintaining momentum and feels like it runs a little too long but it’s a fun throwback to a bygone age of film making that barely seems to exist any more.
- great chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe
- adding Angourie Rice to the mix to create a memorable dynamic
- some great moments that produce a lot of laughs
- a loss in momentum as the film goes on
- the film running around 20 minutes too long