The first trailer for ‘The Nice Guys’ excited me in a unique way. Sure, I got excited for ‘Captain America: Civil War’, but I knew that would be an action-packed, CGI loaded blockbuster; the kind of film which is certainly entertaining to watch, but films like that are now a dime a dozen – though ‘Civil War’ certainly was among the better films of its kind. ‘The Nice Guys’ however looked different. It seemed to pay homage to the gritty, buddy cop movies of the late seventies through early nineties – films like ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, ‘Midnight Run’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’. I wanted a film that would add to that special vein of crime-comedies. Director Shane Black has always tried to be different with his films and take things in clever directions, that sometimes were off-putting, and this was no exception. ‘The Nice Guys’ was one of my more anticipated films of 2016 and it did not disappoint
‘The Nice Guys’ is about a private eye (Ryan Gosling) and a hired goon with dreams of being a private eye (Russell Crowe), who team up to try and solve a mysterious murder/suicide and a missing persons case. But as you may have guessed, things turn out far more complicated than they bargained for.
This film was quite excellent and unique, so I have very few negatives to speak of. That said, child actors are always a stumbling block for me. On occasion, you get a great one, and there are a few good ones out there right now. Many of them however come off awkward, or worse, they do nothing to enhance a movie. I found Angourie Rice as Holly March to be very awkward. I suppose it works because she is at that awkward pre-teen, on the verge of being a teen, stage. I didn’t like her at first, but she did grow on me, and whilst she was certainly not terrible, I just found her too awkward to enjoy her role.
The only other thing was I wanted this film to be funnier. Don’t get me wrong, it is funny in many areas. I chuckled often, but never really any deep laughter. There were no fits of laughter from me and maybe I expected too much from the film. So I tell you to expect humour, but go in with modest expectations on that front.
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe work well together. I love when two talented people unite to make a brilliant duo and these guys played well off one another. They weren’t complete opposites personality-wise, but they certainly had different ways of doing business and a lot of the best humour came from these two trying to solve this case together. Ryan Gosling nailed his character as Holland March. Some of his one-liners are delivered with such perfection, they will likely stand out in the hearts and minds of this movie’s fanbase for years to come. Russell Crowe played his more familiar tough guy role very well. I liked that his character had some depth that we don’t always see and it made the film all the better because of these conflicts.
The action sequences and script in this film were gritty and grimy; a perfect way to pay homage to past crime films. Things weren’t clean cut and perfectly choreographed. They were chaotic, bloody, and unapologetic. This movie really does a great job in taking you back to the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. The political and social issues of the time were very relevant. The music, television shows, cars, and clothing all very fitting. Even the language in this film felt dated, but in a good way – words and slang that are considered taboo in today’s culture are tossed about freely, whilst other phrases and words, which have come to be more accepted in today’s world, are quite vile in this one. This film paints a very bleak picture of the world these people live in and unfortunately it was very accurate. Thankfully, this film has a consistent pace of quality humour to get you past these dire times and actually enjoy the film. This movie can make you think about our world, but it doesn’t beat you with it. It merely tosses that ball out there, and you can catch it or watch it fly by.
In the end, ‘The Nice Guys’ gave me exactly what I wanted – a unique film that feels out of place in these times, and thank goodness for that. It has the action and violence you’d come to expect in a crime film, but it also fills it in with great humour and interesting, fleshed out characters. This film doesn’t hold back and definitely pays homage to great classics which have come before, and better still, it may have created a new one.
If you want a film that is truly one of a kind in today’s cinema landscape, this is that kind of film. It harks back to a more down to earth filmmaking style, with a sharp sense of humour. One of the more gritty and violent comedies out there, but not to an excessive point. If you like a hard, R-rated crime comedy, go and watch ‘The Nice Guys’.
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe