One of my favourite type of film is the buddy movie. One of my favourite film characters is the movie P.I. One of my favourite screen writers is Shane Black. Throw in the fact that it stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and we are in for a treat…or are we?
Thankfully yes we are. The Nice Guys delivers on almost every level. It is densely plotted but coasts along at such a slick pace that you almost don’t notice. After making Marvel in excess of $1.2 billion on the clunky Iron Man 3, Shane Black is back where he is strongest.
It is 1977 in Los Angeles, washed up Private Investigator Holland March (Gosling) is hired to investigate the possibility that a porn star who died in a car accident is still walking around. His investigation leads him into the path of enforcer for hire Jackson Healy (Crowe) who is asked by a young protester Amellia to get March and others off her back. When the young girl goes missing Healy and March find themselves working together and stumbling on a conspiracy that involves the adult film industry, car manufacturers and even the head of the justice department.
Not only is this very funny, it’s layered in such a way that it delivers as both a buddy comedy and a noir thriller. Black’s script delivers on all of the classic film noir tropes, the femme fatale, the vicious thugs, the complex conspiracy, the dingy side of the LA night life, but he does so with his tongue in his cheek. Take Matt Bomer’s New York enforcer, he is called John Boy because he has an identical mole on his cheek to that of the actor who played the character on The Waltons or March trying to rationalise the femme fatale’s murderous ways because she looks so good in a dress.
Films like this could have the best script in the world, but they live or die on the chemistry of its leads. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are brilliant together. Crowe’s gruff, principlaed (sort of) hero plays wonderfully against Gosling’s damaged goofy ex cop who’s alcoholism hides a bigger tragedy. The interplay between the two is a joy to watch, not just the dialouge but the little looks and glances, this partnership works. Crowe looks like he hasn’t this much fun in years, while Gosling turns out to be a gifted physical comedian. The pair are aided by March’s smart teenage daughter. Now, the kid role is a tough one to pull off and more often than not comes across as annoying, not here. She is played brilliantly by newcomer Angourie Rice. It is always good seeing Kim Basinger in anything, but seeing her trade lines with Russell Crowe brought back many great memories of L.A Confidential and if you watch this and recognise Chet the “Projectionalist” he is played by Jack Kilmer, yup, Val’s son (Kilmer memorably played Gay Perry for Black in the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).
If I have to find something negative to say it would be that the plot kind gets a bit muddled at the end and the girl at the centre of the case, played by Andie MacDowell’s daughter Margaret Qualley is so irritating that you wonder why so many people would get so involved in trying to find her.
I loved this and I have a feeling that this will feature in more than one Snooty Ushers’ Top 10 come December. It is well directed with a brilliant script and a pair of great performances from Crowe and Gosling. Once Mr Black gets done with the new Predator film, if he could squeeze a sequel to this before he moves on to the just announced Doc Savage, I, for one, would be grateful. Do yourselves a favour and go see this, you wont regret it.
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.