Monday, May 23, 2016

The Nice Guys

In his latest film writer/director Shane Black returns to a formula he knows well. Set in the 1970s, The Nice Guys delivers on the buddy-cop genre by pairing hired thug Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) with drunk private detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling) on a case involving a missing girl (Margaret Qualley), a murdered porn star (Murielle Telio), political activism, and the United States Justice Department.

The Nice Guys is an attempt to recapture the brilliance of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang by similarly throwing together an unlikely pair to solve a case involving a missing woman. The Nice Guys lacks the snappy dialogue of Black's best film and the pulp detective and noir elements add an entire layer to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang which is missing here. Given their similarities, it's impossible not to compare them, but even if his latest doesn't quite measure it still delivers in its own ways.

Gosling and Crowe work well together, but it's the addition of Angourie Rice (as March's daughter Holly) that ultimately makes the pairing work. Even if the murder plot is a bit convoluted, it's a joy to watch them slowly uncover the truth.

Black incorporates the same off-beat humor from he's other films to deliver a movie that includes several laugh-out-loud moments and some effective action sequences. From the opening car wreck to the climactic shoot-out at the car show The Nice Guys offers just enough talent and style from its cast and crew to differentiate it from any number of similar crime films. The murder mystery may not be quite as engaging as it could be, but watching the unlikely pair pull on the various threads they (sometimes literally) stumble upon proves to be an awful lot of fun. The Nice Guys may never cross the line from really good to great, but Shane Black delivers a thoroughly-enjoyable action-comedy that is one of the better films of 2016 so far.

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