TL;DR – A pretty solid buddy/cop film, not something I have seen in a while, it does have a lot of style, but it hasn’t quite got the substance to go along with it.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is an interesting film in that it is a good old fashioned buddy/cop film, and it has been a while since I have seen a good one, yes I am looking at you Bastille Day, in fact it is a genre that you just don’t see that often anymore, which is a pity because while it can be very cliché, when done well it is a lot of fun to watch.
The Nice Guys tells the story of Holland March (Ryan Gosling) a private detective that lives with his daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) and is a barely functioning alcoholic plagued by demons in his past, also he actually is a pretty good detective or the worse detective, it isolates. Also in the mix is Jackson Healy (Russel Crowe) who is in the profession of beating up people for money, like if a drug dealer was hitting up your underage daughter kind of beat ups. They crash into each other and leave some marks, but soon both realise they need each other because everyone is after Amelia (Margaret Qualley) and everyone is more than willing to go through March and Healy to get to her.
Where the movie shines is the chemistry between the three leads, March being your good at his job but in the habit of making bad life choices kind of character that does not know when to stop drinking, and Healy, being the very by the book almost compulsively rigid that might want to be more than what he is. In fact, the addition of Holly is really interesting because it raises the stakes for everyone and provides a good counterpoint to March and Healy’s lifestyle choices. This chemistry is important because if it is not there then you are not going to have a good buddy/cop film, and it can help smooth over any rough edges, of which there are many in this film. The rest of the supporting cast is a bit bland outside of John Boy (Matt Bomer) who shows a lot of style, and Keith David who literally plays a character called Older Guy but gives a better performance than most of the named characters. The setting if the film in the 1970s is a bit fun, and it is good that film really commits to the period setting, but it commits maybe a bit too much. It is constantly going out of its way to say look, look it is the 1970s, can you see how 1970s it is, and that gets a bit tiresome after a while, also the first time we get a pan over the LA skyline, you will think hmmm that went on a bit too long, well look forward to seeing that repeated 5 or 6 more times during the movie.
When it comes to the plot, there are some really interesting parts, there is a good mystery as to who is Amelia is, and why does everyone want her. Indeed there are some really tense moments and that really helps the film. However, there is a really slow build in The Nice Guys and even though it starts to pick up in the second act, it still plods along at times. The one thing that does not quite hit the right balance is the tone of the film, it can’t quite tell if it wants to be serious or farcical, titillating or political, Spoiler Warning, in the end, it feels like The Nice Guys is trying to do what the characters in the film did, make a political film with a commercial wrapping, but they did not quite pull it off.
I feel like I have been quite critical here, but it is a good film, it just does not live up to its potential, it is almost like this was meant to be the movie length pilot to some new HBO series that somehow got turned into a movie instead. If you like a good buddy/cop film then you will like The Nice Guys, if you have not seen a trailer and you like ‘action’ films then you will probably get a kick out of it, if you really, really, really love the 70s then come on board, if not then I don’t know if you will get much out of The Nice Guys.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Shane Black
Written by – Shane Black & Anthony Bagarozzi
Starring – Russel Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Margret Qualley, Keith David, Kim Basinger & Matt Bomer
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Ireland: 15A; NZ: R16; UK: 15, USA: R