The Nice Guys is a charming and effervescent throwback to the buddy-cop films of days gone by. Prepare to meet the new Riggs and Murtaugh…
“They simply don’t make ‘em like they used to” – it’s a cliché oft repeated by moviegoers of a certain age, and one that you’ve probably heard slip from the lips of your parents or grandparents at one point or another. And 99% of the time, they’re probably right – but that 1% where they’re proven wrong? It belongs to Shane Black’s latest movie, The Nice Guys.
Much like Black’s previous work in the buddy-cop subgenre, The Nice Guys pulls together two opposing actors to form an amusingly mismatched duo; Gosling plays Holland March, a dim-witted single father turned private investigator whilst Crowe plays Jackson Healy, a gruff enforcer-for-hire. These two reluctant heroes team up to solve a string of murders plaguing the Los Angeles porn industry, as well as the somehow connected disappearance of Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley).
Whilst the plot itself is nothing to write home about, the peerless execution and enthusiasm for authenticity is what carries The Nice Guys home where so many other action-comedies struggle. The film is an absurdly perfect recreation of 1977 Los Angeles, to the point where you can almost smell the liquor fumes and pollution oozing from the screen. The cars, costumes, sets and soundtrack (which includes Earth, Wind and Fire, naturally) intertwine to make LA a fleshed-out character in itself.
Gosling taps into his funny bone once again to bring most of the laughs, but both his and Crowe’s characters are underscored with backstories that allow the film to transcend straight-up buffoonery. Black blends satire, slapstick and stirring emotion to great effect, often in quick succession. It’s a testament to his screenplay and the versatility of the two leads that the tone doesn’t feel uneven or jarring at any point during the 116 minutes runtime.
The narrative loses its way somewhere in the middle third as various twists, turns and reversals steer the plot into needlessly convoluted territory, but The Nice Guys is ultimately relying on you having too much fun to notice. The laughs are frequent, often stemming from masterful writing that builds towards a single knockout crescendo – or maybe just a simple, silly sight gag.
The Verdict: 7.5/10
It’s a varied and freewheeling film that showcases the best bromance this side of Captain America: Civil War, and if Black delivers on his promise of a follow-up, you can be assured I’ll be queuing to catch another slice of the madcap action.
The Nice Guys is in cinemas across Australia now