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Review - The Nice Guys

By midlandsmovies, Sep 21 2016 07:29AM

The Nice Guys (2016) Dir. Shane Black

Shane Black has written his fair share of witty dialogue, buddy-cop movies and his trademark flourishes are on full show in this 1977-set noir comedy about private detectives investigating a missing girl.

Based in Los Angeles, the films begins after an adult-movie star dies in a car crash and her aunt hires private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) after she is spotted mysteriously ‘alive’. As another missing girl Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley) hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate Gosling’s P.I., the two detectives are suddenly and reluctantly thrust together to search for the answers to each case. They are assisted/hindered by March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) and the threesome head to locations around the city to tie up the pieces – from an air pollution protest to a hilltop party where models, actresses and dead bodies are all “uncovered”.

As the confusing case spirals, Amelia's mother who is played by an always-pleasing-to-see Kim Basinger, enters to stir the pot from her position in the Justice Department. Her high-class demeanour and Crowe’s violent retribution somewhat echo their roles in L.A. Confidential. Black shies away from the seriousness of that film though as slaughter and laughter come in equal measure as the complicated double-crosses are revealed.

The chemistry between Ryan and Russell is one of the film’s main selling points. Crowe doesn’t do anything particularly new with his beefy muscle role, nor does Ryan with all his silly tics, but the two together deliver Black’s zippy back-and-forth dialogue brilliantly. The twisty narrative is slowly exposed with the audience grasping at the clues along with the two leads and the support from the young and talented Angourie Rice offsets the macho banter. Her scepticism towards her father, her sly and accusing looks at Crowe and generally innocent outlook help give the film some much needed soul where sleaze, murder and corruption are the main themes throughout.

The period fashion, locations and soundtrack are expertly realised and Black’s strong script delivers the knock-out lines the writer/director is known for. A single criticism could be levelled about originality – the set up of Black’s successes of Lethal Weapon, Last Boy Scout and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are all prevalent here – but the plusses far outweigh the negatives in a film full of entertaining vignettes.

Its use of Warner Bros 70s "Big W" logo designed by Saul Bass shows that the Nice Guys is much more than nice – it’s a big slice of retro-influenced cool. With stylish direction, a sophisticated script and a set of trendy performances, Black’s latest is best enjoyed as a hip cocktail of cynical repartee and noir style.


Midlands Movies Mike

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