Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is a witty slice of 1970s throwback noir. It might not be as good as 2005’s similarly themed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but it packs an entertaining punch. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play Jackson Healey and Holland March, two down on their luck Los Angeles detectives tracking down a missing girl amidst a high reaching conspiracy.
Nobody does witty detective movies like Shane Black. From Lethal Weapon through to The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight to the aforementioned Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Black’s has an ear for hardboiled dialogue. He can bang out scripts with zip and sizzle, creating worlds which are as funny as they are violent. The Nice Guys continues this line of well formed buddy movies, this time bringing together the unlikely Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Both show a remarkable aptitude for comedy, delivering Black’s trademark dialogue with skill and precision. Gosling in particular impresses with his physical comedy – you could watch a whole franchise with these two and never get bored. The duo work the screen like a foul-mouthed and violent Laurel and Hardy.
As much as I enjoyed The Nice Guys, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Crowe and Gosling are as dynamic as Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr were in that movie, but there’s just something missing. A little bit of movie magic that was captured in Black’s directorial debut is sadly missing from this movie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really good movie – it’s just not a great movie – and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a great movie.
A wonderful slice of entertainment, The Nice Guys is Shane Black doing what he does best (although maybe not pushing himself). The film riffs on his previous back-catalogue, mixing in a 1970s groove to keep things feeling fresh. It’s a shame that Black’s film wasn’t a summer break-out hit, as you could watch three or four of these detective adventures and not get bored. At least the billion dollar grossing Iron Man 3 has bought Black some box office leverage.
The Nice Guys comes with 2 brief (and light weight) featurettes Always Bet on Black and Worst. Detectives. Ever. Making The Nice Guys. This is an okay package but a movie like this deserves something with a bit more grit. Where’s the commentary from Crowe and Gosling?