If you are aware of the writer/director Shane Black, you know his zippy style of film has become something of his own. When you hear characters say things as confident as “I don't think I can die” while mobsters shoot at them, you know you are watching a movie by the Iron Man 3 director. What started with films such as the Lethal Weapon series and his critically applauded Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the writing that fills the pages must be performed by the right actors to embody these characters. And like director/writers such as Woody Allen or Quentin Tarantino, when you find actors who deliver your dialogue the way you intend it, you score a knock out, as Black did with the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Here, the risk is in the casting of Crowe and Gosling, and the chemistry carries a movie that is often entertaining, with all it's flaws on the surface.
We see the Hollywood sign falling apart in the background and alcoholic, dimwitted P.I. Holland March (Gosling), has a mature for her age, 13 year old-daughter to take care of. He's given the task of finding the porn star, Misty Mountains, who we know died in a nasty opening scene car accident. His investigating leads to an elusive woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). Coincidentally, Amelia has hired Jackson Healy (Crowe), a big swinging, tough guy who makes his money breaking arms for hire. It turns out that the mob happens to also be after Amelia, which brings the two investigators together started by a hilarious sequence of March in a position with his pants down, dropping his cigarette, and pointing his gun at Healy. It's hilarious, and a moment of wit that encapsulates everything great about this movie.
The plot is a bit clunky at times, and the third act feels stuffed to the brim, which is when the villain known as John Boy (Matt Bomer) shows up in a wild shoot out that saws down a palm tree. It is also around the final act where Gosling displays excellent versatility, as he trips, falls, avoids bullets, and blunders his way to retrieving a piece of evidence in a human Rube Goldberg routine. I think it is one of the more memorable film sequences in the last five years.
The casting of these two leads together and making it all glow like a neon light is the real achievement of The Nice Guys. It may not always work, but there is a constant feeling of originality in what should be a cliched buddy-cop movie. Crowe shows off an acting side I want to see more of, and Gosling makes us laugh with screams high enough to break glass. Together they inhabit a film so full of life that you will want to see these two guys working together again, hopefully next time in a script that works as well as this one. Sequels are always a gamble, but it's safe to say that I am crossing my fingers for The Nice Guys 2...
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: THE NICE GUYS
STARRING: RYAN GOSLING; RUSSELL CROWE; KEITH DAVID; KIM BASINGER
DIRECTED BY: SHANE BLACK
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
There is a moment in The Nice Guys when a child is thrown through a glass window. Not a teenager, more like a kid around the age of 11. You would think that even with it's R rating, a moment like that would be softened or not even an option, but in director Shane Black's universe, the bad guys really do hurt people, the jokes are about Hitler, and the heroes are not invincible. That's what I loved about this film. The unlikely pair of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe fit perfectly into Black's style of razor sharp dialogue, in a retro buddy-cop movie under the melting Hollywood sun in the late 1970's.