The Nice Guys

Directed By: Shane Black

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, and Kim Basinger

There are some folks in the industry who may not be widely known despite a well-documented history of commercial success.  Shane Black is most definitely one of these individuals.  He's the man who played a pivotal role in shaping mainstream action flicks into what they are today with his screenplays for Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2.  He's the man who stepped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and served up our most recent dose of Robert Downey, Jr. in a solo film as Tony Stark with Iron Man 3.  He's the man behind crime comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  Yes, Shane Black has had an influential career that has shaped blockbuster cinema as we know it today, but I bet you most people on the street don't have a clue who he is.  This weekend, he's back at it with The Nice Guys, and I can assure you that he's in good form.

It's the 1970's.  Porn star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio) has been brutally murdered, and that's all the talk in Hollywood.  She's not alone as other famous faces in the porn industry drop dead over the next several days as well.  For Private Detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and his overzealous daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), this means business is booming.  This is because Misty's aunt Mrs. Glenn (Lois Smith) could swear that she just saw her daughter the other day, sometime after she was murdered.  She foolishly hires March to find her.  That puts March on the trail of one Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley), who in turn puts Enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) in the slippery private investigator's path.  Their first encounter is rather painful for March, but circumstances soon bring the two together.  It just so happens that Amelia is connected to Misty Mountains and all the other dead bodies around Burbank.

First and foremost, I have to say that The Nice Guys is an old school action comedy with style.  Writer-director Shane Black is in his element.  He's not only found his funny bone but serves up some of the same sort of intriguing, thrilling  storytelling that has defined many of the cinematic gems he's given us over the last several decades.  You can see it in the dark grainy cinematography that harkens back to an era long gone.  You can hear it in the soulful sounds of his groovy soundtrack (with a particular love for Earth, Wind & Fire).  You can feel it in the electric energy that pulsates throughout the film as Black navigate the buddy "cop" genre as if he never left.  Yes, The Nice Guys is Shane Black's return to form, and it's a damn good popcorn flick with a dark allure.

Black doesn't do it alone, and he has a solid cast delivering the goods.  Sharing the screen as March and Healy respectively, Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe make one amusing pair.  They're no Riggs and Murtaugh, but they have solid comedic chemistry on screen.  For his part as March, Gosling is a slick-talking, self-destructive private detective, and his slippery performance showcases this every moment he's on screen.  Meanwhile, Crowe channels the machismo of his younger days and serves up one entertaining performance as the tough guy of the duo.  We also have an endearing performance from Angourie Rice as March's daughter Holly.  She's infectiously charming as the girl who refuses to stay out of her father's business.  Finally, the film boasts solid supporting performances from antagonists Matt Bomer, Keith David, and Kim Basinger.

The Nice Guys
is the buddy cop movie we didn't even know we needed.  With Shane Black, Ryan Gosling, and Russell Crowe firing on all cylinders, you can't go wrong.  If you're looking for something different at the mainstream box office, this is it.  The Nice Guys gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.