- on Friday, 20 May 2016 15:27
- by Frank Wilkins
Shane Black's The Nice Guys hits on so many different levels, it certainly won't come as a surprise if we look back at this as the exact moment the buddy cop flick was awakened from its 30-year slumber.
Sure, the genre has seen many come and go since Black's Lethal Weapon films molded the template with a pair of fast-talking heroes who romp through over-the-top set pieces in the service of a ridiculously implausible plot. But none since have done it with quite the same outlandish ambition and smarmy self-awareness with which Black handles The Nice Guys. Black is always in on the joke, plants his tongue firmly in cheek, and takes us on an action-packed journey along with a couple of blundering numbskulls who become the unlikeliest of heroes.
Though his story could have taken place in any time period and in any large American city, writer/director Black sets it in 1970s Los Angeles when Hollywood Boulevard was overrun by sex shops, the Hollywood sign was a crumbling eyesore, and when choking smog cast a muddy hue over the city of angels. It was an almost alien era that sets up nicely for Black's poke with the mockery stick. Whenever a joke or piece of physical comedy falls flat, there's always the outlandish fashions and far-out atmosphere to catch our fall in its paisley-printed grooviness.
At the heart of the action are bumbling private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) who has a drinking problem, and hulking enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) who is paid to beat people up without asking any questions. The two reluctantly join forces to investigate a mysterious scheme involving a dead porn star, a missing daughter, a corrupt District Attorney, and a film with an unintended adult message.
What follows is nearly two hours of bumbling buffoonery and slapstick shenanigans that would most likely spell doom for any director. But Black has the surprising comedic duo of Gosling and Crowe who not only muster a brilliant chemistry with characters that bob and weave through an equally jittery plot, but who also represent one of the main reasons this whole thing works.
Once they cross paths and eventually partner up, the dynamic duo of investigation are hired to find a missing girl who seems to have a target on her back. Is her disappearance related to the mysterious crash and untimely death of magazine centerfold model Misty Mountains? As their investigation continues, March and Healy bungle their way into uncovering a conspiracy with tentacles that reach all the way up to the highest levels of power in Los Angeles.
The Nice Guys feels like a movie from a bygone era. But it's both refreshing and nostalgic at the same time. There's a reason they don't make movies like this anymore: because it's hard. There are a lot of moving parts and a near unmanageable number of balls to keep in the air at once. Black not only does so expertly, he also manages to keep the intricately labyrinthine plot easily digestible, and the film as a whole, extremely entertaining.
The Nice Guys gets a bit bogged down by its own indulgence in the third act, and quite honestly, could withstand a 15 minute cut. A climactic shootout in the streets involving a somber hitman, played by Matt Bomer, feels tacked on and not fully fleshed out, but the entanglement of March's precocious daughter Holly into the plot in the form of relative newcomer Angourie Rice always keeps things interesting. The young Australian actress is a breath of fresh air and is most assuredly destined for big things in the future.
Trashy and self-aware, The Nice Guys succeeds on almost every level. A handful of standout performances, a well-handled self-deprecating humor, and a rich and time-soaked atmosphere will certainly ensure that The Nice Guys won't finish last. A closing scene that hints at a sequel means we'll likely be seeing more of these guys; and in the era of comic book superhero over-saturation, Hollywood can certainly stand the originality.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use
Runtime: 116 mins
Director: Shane Black
Writer: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Genre: Action | Comedy | Crime
Tagline: Nice pair
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm saying, I think they died quickly. So I don't think they got hurt."
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/TheNiceGuysMovie/
Release Date: May 20, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: August 23, 2016
Synopsis: A private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy.
Available on Blu-ray - August 23, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps); English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
Shane Black's ode to all things noir-ish, gritty, and Los Angeles absolutely delivers on Blu-Ray, with a remarkably clear and vibrant 1080p transfer that beautifully delineates minute details while utilizing a broad and pleasing color palette. Colors are warm and saturated well to match the established "look" of the 1970s. Scenes in the city and in the strip clubs are especially bursting with bright colors, but the transfer remains strong even during the darker, softer night sequences. There are absolutely no flaws to report on this presentation. Meanwhile, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is almost always sturdy, with the booming soundtrack proving its most valuable asset. Despite that, dialogue is typically crisp with a couple of minor offenses, and there are only a few instances where the audio track feels like it's pulling its punches a little bit.
Well, this is a disappointment. There are only two featurettes: one where everyone "loves" on Shane Black and another featurette that is merely a brief look at the making of the film. This is way too good of a movie to not have a commentary or more supplemental material. Even though a DVD copy and a digital copy code is included, The Nice Guys is definitely a disappointing release from Warner Bros. They needed to beef up their offerings.
- Always Bet on Black (5 min)
- Worst Detectives Ever: The Making of The Nice Guys (6 min)