Today: July 20, 2024

The Nice Guys

Shane Black possesses some pretty serious cinema credentials. He wrote Lethal Weapon, which must rank as one of the best action films ever made and spawned a long-running but sadly qualitatively diminishing franchise (he only really wrote the first one, to be fair), and more recently (co)wrote and directed Iron Man 3, another franchise juggernaut and this time the tenth highest grossing movie of all time. So, yeah, he knows a thing or two about writing and directing films. So, one would expect his latest creative offering to be pretty good. And, well, it is.

Carrying over the ‘buddy’ relationship that made Lethal Weapon so enjoyable and playing with the slightly more silly and hapless duo dynamic from his directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Trivia: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang star Val Kilmer’s son, Jack, has a cameo here. Just saying.), Black delivers a hugely entertaining romp of a ride in The Nice Guys. But, who are these ‘nice guys’? (**Spoiler Alert** The movie’s tagline is, ‘They’re not that nice.’) We have the pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.

Fans of Curtis Hanson’s seminal 1997 neo-noir classic, LA Confidential, will recognise something very ‘Bud White’ about Crowe’s performance as Jackson Healy. Albeit the tone couldn’t be more different – slick, silly comedy action rather than dramatic and aesthetic brilliance – a confluence of characteristic energy flows through Crowe as the city’s hard man: big, strong and his violent outgoings merely the vehicle for his conflicted soul, as he ultimately wants only to do the right thing by those having the wrong thing done unto them. He is brilliantly watchable here and his brutish, imposing physical presence is played to perfection. He still deserves his place at Hollywood’s table of bankability.

As for Gosling, he has star quality to burn as he lets loose and goes all-out with his comedy performance. He’s good, he’s very good, but just on a couple of occasions (the toilet door, by the tree) teeters over the edge and plays it a bit OTT. Only proving that comedy is hard and you mustn’t try too hard to get those laughs. Look, he’s brilliant as the ever-drunk and slightly useless private detective, Holland March, and shows that his acting skeleton is not without a generous smattering of comedy bones, but Jim Carrey he is not. So he shouldn’t try for that kind of performance. That’s what Jim Carrey is for. To be Jim Carrey. Anyway, that aside, the dynamic and timing between the two leads is effervescent which makes for a very fun film. And that’s just exactly what The Nice Guys is: fun.

The 70s setting certainly not only adds to the footloose and fancy free style, captured cooly by cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, but actually serves to cover any narrative cracks and is quite a brilliant choice from Black; giving everything a retro ambience forgives any shortcomings found in the plot-lite. Let’s avoid the slithering temptation to say that the era itself almost becomes a character in the movie…

So, let’s say instead: who would want to watch just another buddy action-comedy set in the present day? Think Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg for your answer. But being set in the overtly stylish and sexy 70s also obscures the fairly consistent, gratuitous and unbalanced portrayal of female nudity (the central plot device is that our heroes are trying to track down a female porn star, so maybe they covered that one too…) and the underrepresentation of anything approaching a strong female character.

Enter Angourie Rice, who quite simply sets the screen alight as the precocious and long-suffering, if not diminutive, daughter to Gosling’s never-present and/or inebriated father. One to watch, a la Kirsten Dunst and Dakota Fanning. Kim Basinger pops up in an ancillary role but still manages to effuse some of her dwindling star power and provides us with another link back to LA Confidential (where she also co-starred with Crowe). Aren’t we clever. Oh, and, in case it wasn’t clear, this film is also set in LA. So that about wraps it up. LA Confidential meets Kiss Kiss Bang Bang set in the 70s. Sounds alright doesn’t it.

The Nice Guys is a classic, old school movie; go to the cinema, watch it and have a great time. Then leave, never really thinking of it again but feeling sated and confident that you just got your money’s worth. And if enough of you do that, then we may well see The Nice Guys 2 in a couple of years. And that wouldn’t be so bad at all.

Previous Story

Love & Friendship

Next Story

Free Movies At British Summer Time Hyde Park

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.


Following early screenings, Longlegs mania became something bigger than anyone could have predicted. After an eerie and ambiguous marketing campaign made up largely of short, cryptic teasers, hype was already pretty high

Inside No 9 Complete Collection Unboxing

Earlier this year, one of the finest television creations in the history of the medium came to a poignant conclusion after 9 impeccable seasons. Over 55 self-contained episodes, Inside No 9 made

A Bittersweet Life Unboxing

Taking a brief detour from horror, Second Sight Films have given their much-loved Limited Edition treatment to South Korean neo-noir thriller A Bittersweet Life (2005). Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon may jump wildly around

The Conversation Unboxing

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece of paranoia The Conversation celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and StudioCanal are marking the occasion with this utterly beautiful Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray release that even

Halo Season Two Unboxing

While the Halo TV series continues to be controversial with longtime ‘fans’ of the franchise for petty reasons, this year’s explosive second season certainly marked an improvement over the first. With better
Go toTop

Don't Miss


In a recent interview with The New York Times, Oppenheimer

Radiance Films Blu-ray Unboxings

There’s a new boutique label in town. Radiance Films promise