From the writer of Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 and Lethal Weapon 3 comes a Lethal Weapon movie that knows its a Lethal Weapon movie. Go figure.
The Nice Guys (2016) is a buddy-cop action-comedy written and directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). It stars Ryan Gosling as Holland March, an incompetent private eye who must team up with tough-guy Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) after they both undercover a conspiracy circulating around the apparent suicide of a Porn Star in 1970s Los Angeles.
The basic plot is your classic crime/noir conspiracy with plenty of twists and detective-work. And the keyword there is classic – this film is a massive homage to the buddy-cop comedies of the 70s and 80s that simply don’t get made anymore. Not only is the setting created with utter perfection – it feels like you’re watching a 70s film with modern film-making quality – the homage aspect means that there is plenty of opportunities for the film to exploit classic tropes and clichés (which it does frequently with energetic gusto).
Many of these subversions of these tropes are the biggest laughs of the movie – which is saying something, because this film is funny. Shane Black has a pitch-perfect understanding of this genre and it shows endlessly through the consistently hilarious and clever writing stitching this film together. Even now, a day after seeing this film, lines randomly pop into my head forcing me to burst out laughing at the strangest moments. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. While it isn’t a full-blown comedy due to its sprinkling of well-executed action and drama, the biggest takeaway from this film is that Shane Black is an exceptionally funny writer.
But he shouldn’t get all the credit. Crowe and Gosling’s chemistry in this movie is bloody incredible – this will hopefully become the Riggs and Murtaugh of this generation their scenes together are that good. Particularly Gosling (who could play this character for the rest of time and I’d be happy) has astonishingly good comedic timing and expressions. Not only that, but both characters are given room to development and create a solid bond. Both March and Healy have some solid characterisation behind them that make them more than stereotypes and punchlines, and while not every character moments fits well with the film – there’s a couple with Healy that feel tonally out of place and drag the energy down – for the most part it creates not only believable characters but a believable relationship. While Black definitely deserves some credit for the bloody good script this film has, Crowe and Gosling still both show a side that I’ve never seen from either, and a side I will be beyond happy to see again.
If you love classic buddy-cop movies, or simply entertaining movies in general, The Nice Guys is an absolute must-see. It may stumble infrequently with tone, but overall this is still a hilarious subversion/homage of 70s movies deserves all your money (because I desperately want a sequel).
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Must-see
Citizens: Highly Recommended
Winner of the 2016 Batsie Award for Disappearing Inque.