Shane Black’s latest offering is a slick and sharp neo-noir comedy-action that is a welcome breath of fresh air into multiplexes. It has all the makings of a cult film and brilliantly mixes genres together to create an excellent cinematic cocktail.
The film follows Ryan Gosling’s private eye, Holland March, who partners up with Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), an enforcer-for-hire, to look into the case of a missing young women and subsequently become completely embroiled in a complex web of dangerous characters. Much hilarity ensues.
Black has crafted a unique and slightly offbeat film with a real 70s vibe (along with great references). The plot may not always be completely coherent or comprehensible, even at the end you may not be entirely sure of what was going on. However, this barely affects the entertaining ride the film takes you on, it just makes the stakes a little confusing. The film’s consistent atmosphere and unique tone keeps the film engaging, with the witty dialogue and great acting carrying the audience through. There are hilarious comic set-pieces, but also great action sequences, with the film striking the perfect balance between the genres it straddles.
The acting is one of the integral parts that really makes this film so great (and cult-worthy). Gosling and Crowe make a brilliant pair, bouncing off of one another perfectly, never missing a beat. Their fantastic chemistry really helps to draw the audience in and keep the film so compelling. It is an excellent showcase of their comedy chops, be it in the moments of slapstick or delivering the sharp dialogue to perfection. Honestly, the film is almost worth seeing for Ryan Gosling’s screams alone. Despite their heavyweights that are her co-stars, the breakout of the film is certainly Angourie Rice as March’s daughter. Her interactions with the people around her are brilliant and she is definitely one to watch out for in the future. Each character is interesting and brings something else to the table, and all are given great introductions. At points, the presence of Crowe and Kim Basinger in an L.A. set neo-noir may even briefly give you a feeling of Déjà vu (L.A. Confidential, anyone?).
The film is flawed, its pacing is occasionally a little uneven, sometimes feeling a little slow (partly due to the slightly unclear narrative). Occasionally, the film’s unique spark also becomes lost, however, the film’s upbeat tone and energy ensures that these minor issues don’t overly affect the overall enjoyment of the film.
The Nice Guys takes you on one brilliantly entertaining journey and will transport you to 70s LA for a couple of hours filled of laughs and thrills. This refreshing release will likely gather a cult following before too long.