You will all have favourites out there, favourite actors, favourite directors, favourite writers. It’s natural that you gravitate towards certain people, with actors it’s because you probably identify with him or her more, or just that you like their performances. Directors and writers though are a little different, you don’t like the people themselves necessarily, but you like their style, their techniques, their voice. For me I love Shane Black and will watch anything that he does and for the most part I love everything he has written or directed. What really appeals to me about Shane Black is the way he can switch very quickly and almost effortlessly between hilarious comedy to serious drama. Not only that but he manages to subvert clichés by setting up what looks to be a cliché situation and then turns it completely on its head.
The Nice Guys was released in 2016 and stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, it’s an old-fashioned detective thriller with a modern twist. The 70s setting lends itself to not only the aesthetic that runs through but also to the story itself. Shane Black wrote and directed The Nice Guys and I think that this is the most Shane Black film that Shane Black has made. It’s got gut-bursting comedy, witty dialogue, fully developed characters and an intricate plot. It is a film that I saw multiple times in the cinema upon initial release and I’ve seen it even more at home. What really appealed to me was the fact that it was a period piece. We’re so used to technology playing a big part in films and TV series these days that it’s great to see a film that can do away with all that, the most high tech thing you see in this film is a timer attached to a film projector.
The characters are also great and unique, Ryan Gosling is really able to stretch his comedic acting chops in the role of Holland March and we can see that he as excellent comedy timing. For an actor who usually plays incredibly serious and moody characters he really impresses with the comedy. Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy is equally as good, the comedic timing that Crowe displays is on par with Gosling and their chemistry is second to none. They have a very natural chemistry that makes the comedy really hit when it counts. Rounding up the main cast is newcomer (or she was at the time) Angourie Rice, who at 15 is giving a performance that a lot of adult actors would be jealous of. Since The Nice Guys Rice has appeared in several other films including the two recent Spider-Man films. She is definitely a talent to watch.
It’s soaked in a feeling akin to the pulp crime novels of the 1970s with some Raymond Chandler style twists thrown into the mix as well. Although March himself is not a hard-boiled detective like Philip Marlow that is one of the things that makes The Nice Guys feel so unique, you expect him to be a tough detective character but very quickly you see that he isn’t all that tough. It’s incredibly refreshing to see and almost through a natural evolution of the character you see him start to become tougher as the film progresses, but the tough guy element of the detective partnership is definitely filled by Healy. And because it’s Shane Black there is no way that you don’t get a buddy cop style relationship between the two leads and this is up there with Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon, the first of which was written by Black.
The film itself is so much fun, whilst it is shown as a comedy it is also a thriller and action film primarily, and yet it’s funnier than most of the straight comedies that have come out of cinema in the last 10 years easily. It’s a film that can always make me laugh and brighten my day and in these current times we are living in it’s a film that we all need in our lives.
The Nice Guys is available to rent or buy in the US and is available for free on Amazon Prime in the UK
Matt is a huge film and TV buff who studied film and moving image production at university. In his spare time he enjoys reading comics and books, the occasional gaming session and writing novels.