With the exception of The Predator, I love me some Shane Black. From the moment I first saw Lethal Weapon, I knew I had found a writer (and later a director) that I would enjoy following. Keeping in the vein of his other film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys plays with the detective genre, and pairs Ryan Gosling with Russell Crowe.
Set in 1977, the film follows a private investigator, Holland March (Gosling) – who has himself a telephone book ad that seems very similar to that of Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files – in his search for a missing woman, Amelia (Margaret Qualley), whose involvement with an adult film, and its star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio) is merely a cover for something more insidious.
Holland and his daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice) find themselves working with a local muscle for hire, Jackson Healy (Crowe) when they find learn they are both working on the same case from opposite ends.
None of them are ready for where the case will take them, as the clash with a couple of thugs (Keith David and Beau Knapp), and a dangerous killer, known as John Boy (Matt Bomer).
Black, who penned the script alongside Anthony Bagarozzi, delivers comedic dynamite that highlights his knack for whip smart dialogue and quips as well as absurd situations. And March and Healy find themselves in a number of them as the story rockets along.
Setting the film in the 70s, the film’s attention to detail is paramount, and the film billboards, the clothes, the style, the look, all of it rings true, and helps support the story, but no spoilers there.
Gosling really leans in to the comedic edge of his character, the way he screams when something scares him, his willingness to take a case whose resolution sits on a ledge a few feet away, his raising of his daughter…
Sure the film leans into the alcoholism can be funny thing, bit it also reflects the time it which it was set.
Crowe’s Healy is no-nonsense, not always the brightest, but willing to let his fists guide him, and keep his somewhat questionable moral compass, pointed in mostly the right direction.
Featuring great source music, and nods to the period, as well as the genre, the film delivers the laughs, an entertaining story, and a bromance that works wonderfully on screen. And that will keep me coming back to it, and Black’s other films (except The Predator – honestly did anyone like that film? Maybe I need to give it another chance).
I love Black’s writing style, and I love the way his cast brings it to life, realistically, playing it straight, and delivering the quips with ease. So much fun. I’ll need to revisit some more Shane Black films in the near future.