MOVIE REVIEW – ‘The Nice Guys’

Written by J.T. Johnson

4-stars

DIRECTOR: Shane Black
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Philippe Rousselot
WRITERS: Shane Black, Anthony Ragarozzi
MUSIC: John Ottman, David Buckley

Writer and director Shane Black returns to familiar territory with “The Nice Guys”. It is an old school action “buddy cop” movie with two ultimately likable misfits. As far as the tone of the movie goes, it has more in common with Black’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” than any of his other films.

Private Eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a down on his luck PI who is investigating a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) who doesn’t want to be found. He is doing this to swindle an innocent old lady out of more money, but he also has some personal demons he is facing. In addition to this, he is trying to raise his 12-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), a young girl who proves to be quite resourceful herself.

On the other side of the coin is enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a man who doesn’t actually like his job because of how it makes him feel but it pays the bills. Jackson and Holland inevitably meet each other and while their first encounter doesn’t go so well, eventually the two team up to find Amelia and a larger conspiracy soon unfolds.

Black has always been talented at balancing solid action with great situational humor. Being the writer of “Lethal Weapon”, Black is one of the masters of the “buddy cop” movie. The only thing missing in this movie is that neither Holland or Jackson are cops.

The mystery that propels the narrative is also an interesting one, even if it doesn’t quite stick the landing by the end of the movie. It doesn’t really matter, though, as the main point of this film is to follow Holland and Jackson on their many misadventures and that is where the movie ultimately succeeds.

Holland and Jackson have douchebag jobs and plenty of character flaws, but you can’t help but love them. This has to do with the fact that both characters do have hearts and the movie shows you this just enough to remind you that they are, in fact, pretty nice guys. Another thing that helps is the chemistry between Gosling and Crowe.

Gosling’s Holland is the funnier character of the two because he is way more screwed up and always drunk, which leads to even more shenanigans. Crowe is more the straight man and has his head screwed on more firmly to his shoulders than his seemingly aloof partner.

The two “nice guys” are also accompanied by a third partner with Holland’s daughter Holly. She is a highly resourceful character that actually adds more to the movie than just being a plot device that Holland and Jackson have to rescue. It also helps that Rice is pretty mature for her age and she does come off more as a part of the gang than a childish nuisance.

The action, when it does occur, is solid for the most part. The best sequence is the climactic fights near the end. Obviously, for spoiler reasons, I can’t go into anymore detail here. However, I can say that you will be cheering and laughing at the same time.

I’m a little upset that Warner Bros. shoved this movie in between the recently released “Captain America: Civil War” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”. The studio has pretty much assured themselves that their movie will do very little business at the box office. That’s unfortunate because “The Nice Guys” is definitely worth seeing with two ultimately lovable characters and a nice throwback to the “buddy cop” action films of yesteryear.

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