The Nice Guys
Director – Shane Black
Starring – Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer
The Nice Guys has all the ingredients to become a cult classic down the line. A crime caper comedy set in the LA of 70’s, the film is one heck of a ride. There is the perfectly over complicated plot involving the murder of a porn actress (who, btw is equally perfectly named Misty Mountains), her kidnapped friend who is also into adult films (played by the very beautiful Margaret Qualley who unfortunately has very little to do), a private detective (Ryan Gosling) and a hired muscleman (Russell Crowe). There are contract killers (Matt Bomer in all his handsome glory), glitzy parties, random strangers getting shot, strippers, chance escapes and pools filled with mermaids. Or as we say : the ideal stage for a noir film.
But none of it matters really. The plot is not what you are in for. You are in for a good time and that is what Gosling and Crowe provide. Their camaraderie is the high point of the film and will keep you glued to the screen. Gosling lets it loose with his character, a drunk private detective whose wife is dead and has to take care of a 13 year old daughter (Angourie Rice). Crowe, no longer the shape he was once in, fits the role of a for hire muscle with ease. Their rowdy give and take provides for ample laughs and every now and then they will bash a head or two.
Shane Black, is particularly a favorite director of mine. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) is one of the most underrated films of all time and his Iron Man 3 is one of the best Marvel movies out there, unless you are a fanboy, and the Mandarin cop out casts a shadow over every other aspect of the film for you. He returns to his wheelhouse with ease and you can see his stamp everywhere except for when Gosling and Crowe are bickering : because most of that seems extempore and an extension of their real life personalities. And frankly, that is what we want. There is one scene, where Matt Bomer’s character (who is named John Boy of all things) appear and opens fire on Gosling’s house. What happens during and just after the sequence (*spoiler* someone dies) is probably the Shane Black-iest of sequences and distinguishes him from pretty much everyone else in modern cinema.
Angourie Rice!! She steals the show and how. Even Academy Award winner and nominated actors like Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling feels short when they appear together with her. And she is just 13 years old. Playing Gosling’s daughter, she is the smartest of the lot, has the funniest of scenes and also proves to be the moral center of the film. Her exchanges with Crowe are pretty poignant in what is basically a loudy, boisterous B-film.
Kim Basinger shows up as the head of the Justice Department and as the mother of the kidnapped girl, but she is preciously underused. That is sad especially because Kim won the Oscars in 1997 for a similarly themed film noir set in Los Angeles co starring Crowe : LA Confidential. This film though is not necessarily screaming out for Oscar nomination, but is a ride to remember as long as it lasts.
Rating – 4/5