The Nice Guys review: Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling leave Cannes in stitches in this supern caper set in the seventies. Shane Black is most definitely back.
The Nice Guys review from the Cannes Film Festival, May 2016.
Shane Black follows up his enormous success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3, with this hark back to his superb action/ comedy vehicles of old that started with Lethal Weapon in the eighties, and continued through to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang with Robert Downey Jr. nearly two decades later.
The Black template features some of his; a buddy cop set-up, though this time our main protagonists are private detectives, non-stop comedy and balls to the wall action. The story revolves around Ryan Gosling‘s low-life, moral-free, whiskey swigging private detective Holland March, who is investigating the disappearance of a young woman in Los Angeles, 1977. Russell Crowe‘s fellow private dick Jackson Healy is also on the trail, hired by the character Amelie (Margaret Qualley), the girl Match is tracking, to stay away from her. Little does Healy know that he needs March more than he actually knows, and the two must eventually unite to fend off a couple of heavies that have targeted them, and at the same time solve a mystery surrounding an adult movie that has seen a group of people associated with it turn up dead.
I guess the big question is ‘does The Nice Guys‘ deliver old-school, on-form Shane Black?’ Does it have the wit of his movies of old? Is it up there with the sleeper gem that was Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang back in 2005? Well, of course it does. And them some (there’s another little Shane Black reference for you). The Nice Guys had me howling in my seat in the standing-room only Cannes screening along with a few hundred other festival goers who twice applauded the movie as it was running. The film is a proper crowd pleaser from the off, Gosling’s hapless bum up there with some of the great Black characters, most similar with to Bruce Willis’ Joe Hallenbeck from The Last Boy Scout, which he wrote during the nineties, and whose catchphrase we previously quoted. Gosling’s March is the kind of guy to take the cash from his naïve clients, no matter what the repercussions, and take them to the cleaners for as much as possible. Crowe’s Healy, also very good in one of his first major comedic roles, is quite the opposite, a guy who’ll stay loyal to his employer, even if he is willing to break a few bones in the process. Gosling and Crowe’s on-screen chemistry works wonderfully, the flawless dialogue falling out so naturally – they’re both having a ball with the material. In the wings we also have Matt Bomer‘s sharp-shooting hitman John Boy (probably not that one), Keith David‘s older guy (that’s how he’s credited), who is also on-point, and also present is Kim Basinger in what is essentially an extended cameo as chief justice Judith Kutner, the actress reuniting with Crowe for the first time since her Oscar-winning turn with him in L.A. Confidential.
Black’s script is energetic, full of some hilariously funny, and hugely quotable one-liners and some really quite nasty violence scattered about, almost of which lays out when you’re in fits of giggles anyway. A stand-out scene is the Hollywood Hills party early on, Gosling’s character going swimming while tanked up on free booze to ‘question the mermaids’, and Crowe’s Healy more focussed, but equally hapless, leaving the proper detective work to be conducted by March’s daughter Holly (a very good Angourie Rice).
The Nice Guys contains a few minor plot holes, but when you’re having this much fun, who cares? A very unique, highly entertaining comedy from one of Hollywood’s biggest, and most talented writer/directors. A film which will leave your face aching and screaming for more as those final credits roll. This is an absolute blast. Bring on the sequel.
The Nice Guys review by Paul Heath at the Cannes Film Festival, May 2016.
The Nice Guys is released in the UK on June 3rd, 2016.