Shane Black (director)
Warner Bros. Pictures (studio)
116 Minutes (length)
03 June 2016 (released)
23 May 2016
How can you not love Ryan Gosling or Russell Crowe? Both are very talented actors and under the guidance of one of Hollywood’s best, Shane Black, you can’t go wrong with an action comedy featuring these names, right?
The Nice Guys is a noire-inspired mystery set in the late ‘70s, a time where the porn and motor industry were booming and everyone had to do anything they could to get by. We are introduced to our main leads, a thug for hire, Russell Crowe, and drunken P.I., Ryan Gosling. They cross paths when Russell is hired to give Gosling a message he won’t forget and soon the pair are united in finding a missing girl. But things are never simple and soon the pair becomes part of a dire conspiracy involving the adult film industry, dead porn stars and the birds and bees.
The Nice Guys starts with a bang. The death of an adult movie star slowly develops into this complex murder mystery. It’s highly engaging due to several factors that work incredibly well together. The time period used is refreshing compared to modern day crime capers and it utilises a great sense of humour that’s never shy to shock you as well as our brilliant anti-hero characters.
Gosling and Crowe play beautifully off each other as a pair and by themselves they are both strong. They are very likable, even though they are often referred to us bad guys. Yet each of them has interesting personas and their hearts are in the right place. Most of the time. They are just a couple of guys working to survive or to look after a loved one, yet are often dragged down due to their failures in life. You’ll enjoy seeing the extreme twists the story takes when progressing and just how each of our leads react to them. Ryan Gosling, however, is the shining star here; his idiotic and drunken ways are a sheer joy and seeing his mishaps blow back into his face is just pure brilliance. His reactions to when things go wrong alone brought a smile to my face and with Russell Crowe to bounce the humour off, we’re never bored of them.
The film has a great sense of comedy, whether it’s delivering snappy one liners, sharp and witty exchanges between certain characters or even physical elements of the comedy that worked even better than you’d expect. I enjoyed most of the random moments, such as Gosling swimming in a tank with two women dressed as mermaids, and later he’s asked by Russell why he did it. Gosling’s response is pure gold and the remainder of the deadpan nature that follows the conversation will certainly stick with you.
Be warned as The Nice Guys has some very dark humour but not too dark that you can’t see the funny side to the situation. It’s more the reactions of our two leading stars to these horrific events that really make you laugh as well as the sheer dread knowing they’re way out of their league most of the time. There are some surreal elements to the humour which many viewers might not grasp but they actually filter into the story and interlink with other later sketches rather well. Watch out for Gosling’s dream sequence and how it plays into another scene later on. Of course, it results in Gosling’s character mucking up at the worst time, but again it’s funny as both Crowe and Gosling portray the failure in such a comedic way and play off each other so well.
Shane Black does an impressive job for action and with some great editing, you’ll never lose track of what’s going on.
Surprisingly, the film felt longer than it actually was and I felt certain plot elements were repeated or that there were moments which felt too similar to other scenes that they felt a little unnecessary. But overall, the film doesn’t lose steam and for a majority feels structured enough to keep your attention. This would be due to the cast, the action and the supporting cast (featuring Keith David, Kim Basinger and our main villains) do a fantastic job at keeping you gripped to the screen.
Yet another problem came from the naff, lighthearted lead up to the end. We’re given some great action scenes towards the end and with the climax coming, we’re given some very lighthearted resolutions that felt somewhat out of place. But at the very end, we are given one last helping of Gosling and Crowe’s comedic excellence.
Still, even with these flaws, The Nice Guys is a great buddy comedy that’s refreshing, clever and witty, with a great sense of dark humour and all performed and directed beautifully. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoy Shane Black’s previous film, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang or who wanted to see a comedy version of LA Confidential.