‘The Nice Guys’, directed by Shane Black, (known for the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series and ‘Iron Man 3, among others) is a film that I’ve been wanting to watch for a while – the trailer promised lots of hilarious one liners, along with some seriously stylised ‘70s. I always worry when I see a hilarious trailer that most of the jokes have already been heard, but thankfully there was a damn good film behind it this time.
Set in the late ‘70s, Holland Marsh (Ryan Gosling) is a private investigator and single Dad who spends most of his time getting paid to solve ridiculous cases that are clearly leading nowhere. Soon after the death of famous adult actress Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), he finds himself targeted by Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a man who basically beats people up for cash, for trying to track down missing girl Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who might just be connected. After Healy himself gets threatened, the two of them find themselves paired together to find Amelia and work out what’s really going on beneath the surface.
Ryan Gosling is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. I first saw him in ‘Drive’, and since then he’s gone from strength to strength (he’s also particularly good in ‘The Big Short’). In ‘The Nice Guys’ he proves just how great he is at comedy, bringing us most likely scripted scenes that really feel like he made the whole thing up on the spot. He teams up well with Crowe who, although isn’t quite so slapstick, still adds his own variety of humour to the mix. You may find the pairing rather similar to Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) and Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) in ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’, also directed by Shane Black, yet the formula still works. Not quite as epic, but hilarious and engaging nonetheless. Holly (Angourie Rice) adds a great third dimension to the duo as March’s strangely mature 13 year old daughter who insists on solving the case alongside them.
I’ve got to also praise the soundtrack – wonderfully 70’s, and fitting perfectly with the feel of that movie. That filter as well… all in all it was an exciting film to watch for all of the senses. Sometimes films can overdo it with the stylisation and, although it wasn’t necessarily 100% accurate, it did work really well and went nicely with the comedic and less serious aspects of the plot.
The plot was the only thing that bugged me, actually – a hell of a lot of effort had gone into the rest of it, and yet the plot didn’t seem to play that big a part. It was acceptable, but it wasn’t wildly gripping to watch… what really made it was the witty one-liners and the chemistry between the characters. I wasn’t really that bothered about finding out what happened to Misty Mountains, instead just wanting the scenes of general hilarity to keep on coming. I also found the plot got a bit confusing at points – there was one particular fight scene at the end that had so many people involved (all wearing black suits) that meant following who everyone was ended up pretty damn hard. And this is why Black hasn’t quite pulled off another ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ – the plot of ‘The Nice Guys’ just wasn’t up there with it.
Don’t let that put you off though – ‘The Nice Guys’ is a seriously watchable film, and it’s great for anyone who wants a bit of a laugh for a change, rather than an emotional tragedy or two hours of complex plot twists that will just mess with your head. Don’t take it too seriously and I guarantee you won’t be able to keep a straight face. 4/5
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