Lethal Weapon creator Shane Black returns with a twist on the buddy cop action movie that he helped pioneer in the 80s. The Nice Guys proves the same recipe that brought us the unlikely pairing of Riggs and Murtaugh still pleases even after all these years.
Black, who has directed a smattering of films including 2013’s Iron Man 3, got out of the game for just shy of a decade in the late 90s before returning as writer and director with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also starring Robert Downey Jr) in 2005. He also directs in this return to the genre that made his name.
Clumsy dad-of-one Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a Detroit private detective who seems to hold the twin mantles of being the luckiest and unluckiest man alive. He’s searching for a girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) in connection with the case of an old lady who’s convinced she’s seen her dead pornstar daughter Misty Mountains (it’s the 60s). Amelia meanwhile is paying beefy tough guy with a fatherly concern for troubled young girls Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to get March off her trail.
When two hired guns try to shake down Healy for information about the whereabouts of Amelia, he realises she’s in danger and employs March to help him find her. Together, along with some help from March’s tom-boyish daughter Holly (played with scene-stealing cool by Angourie Rice), they uncover a conspiracy that goes all the way up.
A wacky plot, at times a little thin, drives this caper along. But it’s the joy witnessing Crowe and Gosling, both of whom we’re used to seeing in stand-out gritty dramas, being a little silly and showing some great comic timing and ability that makes The Nice Guys more than just your average action movie.
Gosling in particular draws the biggest laughs. A scene where March attempts to covertly break in through a back door, doing himself some serious harm in the process, had me loudly guffawing in my seat. And there’s plenty more of those.
Final Word: Two actors known for their hard-hitting dramatic roles play against type and bring us some of the best comedic moments on screen so far this year. Black reminds us how it used to be done with some comedy actions sequences that are both thrilling and hilarious. He’s hitting his marks so you can sit back and be entertained. Go see it.
If you liked The Nice Guys you should also watch:
- Lethal Weapon
- The Other Guys
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang