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The Nice Guys - The Riles Review
One of my favourite genre of films is the ‘old guy has had enough shit today and talks with punches’ genre. A tale as old as time, and I reckon there’s nothing cooler than an old dude kicking the tar out of young people. The Nice Guys now has one of the top spots on my mantle for that genre. Russell Crowe, one of my favourite old dudes, delivers in one of the best films so far this year.
The Nice Guys is about a guy who is hired muscle for money, and a private detective who can't see eye to eye, but have to work together against their wishes to find a missing girl.
Sounds like every buddy cop film in the 70s, doesn’t it? The Nice Guys is pretty much a product of 1976 released today. It’s such a faithful film to the genre and setting, without falling into the trap of total admiration. Instead of spending the whole 116 minutes honouring those movies, it becomes one of those movies. The plot twists and turns exactly like it should, and delivers some really awesome fights and shootouts, as well as a lot of laughs.
Every joke in the movie lands, and a lot of them can be real gut busters too. It’s all aided by the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. They riff off of each other superbly, and they really sell the partnership. They’re as good as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours, and they’re nearly as good as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. The Nice Guys comes close but never really eclipses those films, which is understandable because director Shane Black was a writer for the first two Lethal Weapon movies. He knows his shtick, and he knows it very well.
The movie’s pacing keeps it fresh as well. The film is consistently funny and energetic. It slows down every now and again to get a little morose or insightful, but only for a moment. And when it does, it’s never dramatic to the point of being disabling, or completely out of whack with the story or characters. It adds layers to the film and the characters without being obtrusive.
At first I was afraid that Ryan Gosling wasn’t going to be able to pull off the bumbling lousy detective thing, but he absolutely killed it. He was brilliant, and sold every single line. His contrast from Russell Crowe’s character isn’t ground-breaking or particularly new, but it is so genuinely delivered from both actors that it’s forgivably recycled. And on the other hand, this wouldn’t have been a true homage to buddy cop films if they’re partnership was something we hadn’t seen before. Russell Crowe was born to play the enforcer Jackson Healy. His attitude and his character were all so well-crafted, that when it came to a fat man kicking the shit out of people non-stop you could believe he was doing it. You didn’t have to suspend your disbelief that he was capable, unlike Ray Winstone in The Sweeney. Fat and mad, Russell’s true calling. If I had one complaint to make, it’s that Ryan Gosling’s character arc felt rushed. Something becomes established and it’s immediately absorbed into the film, so it feels like Ryan Gosling’s character is someone different. Not completely different, but definitely not in line with what he was at the start. It felt like an unhealthy progression.
The supporting cast were dynamite as well. Keith David puts in a nice little role, and Matt Bomer is exceptionally creepy, if a little absent. I think the standout for me was Beau Knapp as one of the thugs on the trail. He was just balls out all the time, and it was hilarious.
Wrapping it up...
So if neo-noir mysteries are your bag, then this is perfect for you. If the words 'neo-noir' hold no resonance for you whatsoever, then this would be a great introduction to the genre. It’s hilarious and it’s full of bullets. It’s a blast from start to finish.
The Nice Guys - 9/10