Whilst not quite hitting the heights of 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang', Shane Black's return to the genre he helped define is a welcome, zany fun topped with brilliant chemistry and craft from it's two leads.
Let’s face it. The Nice Guys is a bit of a conundrum. Released in the summer season, it came as quite a surprise. It wasn’t a sequel…it wasn’t a prequel…it wasn’t part of any franchise or extended universe and it wasn’t based on a young adult novel. Warner Brothers had released an original property in the summer with a 50 million budget…what? Of course, what many people didn’t put into the equation was that it was being helmed by Shane Black (the guy who wrote your dad’s favorite movies) and had casted Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in a comedy.
Set in 1977, the plot follows a mismatched paring of ‘scattershot’ P.I Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and ‘enforcer’ Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and their investigation into the death of an adult film star.
The setting for this is classic, gloriously pulpy, 70’s buddy cop dreamland. Having basically been the king of the genre when it was at it’s peak (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout), Black is back in his old stomping ground. Having previously returned to the genre back in 2005 with the criminally underrated gem Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he recreates the same wit and energy that has fueled his previous effort to it’s cult status. Penned alongside Anthony Bagarozzi, it zips along with purpose and ingenious humour that blasts past some of the clichés, something that has to be commended considering how baggy and bloated some of the bigger ‘blockbusters’ are becoming.
Of course, this script’s punch wouldn’t be nearly as fully realised without the fantastic casting of Gosling and Crowe, who’s chemistry bursts from the seams. Up until now, both have steered away from flexing their comedic muscles but here, Black gets the best out of them, especially Gosling, of whom is a serious contender of comedic performance of the year. A word should also go out Angourie Rice’s breakout role as March’s daughter, showing just as much timing and spunk as anyone else.
The Nice Guys (2016) directed by Shane Black, is released in the UK on Blu-Ray and DVD by Icon Film Distribution, certificate 15.