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Director: Shane Black
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe & Angourie Rice
Synopsis: A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a porn star in 1970’s Los Angeles.
Rating: 15 Duration: 116 minutes Release date: 26 September (UK)

Crowe, Gosling, Black. The triumvirate that is General Maximus, Driver and the man who made the buddy-cop thriller have come together and made a dirty, neon-lit, campy funny throwback to the sort of films that I grew up watching in the 90’s. The likes of Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang would be nothing, quite literally, without Shane Black and after last directing Iron Man 3 for Marvel Studios, he is back in familiar territory with this 70’s set action comedy that feels like a welcome return to form.

In a brash manner, The Nice Guys starts as it means to go on with a car crash involving porn star Misty Mountains and some very serious foul play. Cue rather clueless Private Investigator Holland March (Gosling) who, having being approached by Misty’s Aunt takes the rather odd job of searching for Misty who her Aunt believes is still alive. Conversely, another missing girl; Amelia (Qualley) forms part of the reason behind March’s motives. Unfortunately for March, Amelia doesn’t want to be found and has hired down on his luck thug for hire Jackson Healy (Crowe) to persuade March to stop his search. While this works initially, the two are set on a path that will unite them in a crusade against hit men, the justice department and the local porn industry.

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The old saying that opposites attract has never rung more true than it does in The Nice Guys. Pairing Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe together in any film would have seemed unique, but to do it in this environment was either a master-stroke or an act of madness, or an act of madness that seems like a master-stroke. However you look at it, there is little denying that Gosling and Crowe share an excellent on-screen chemistry. Crowe’s brutish nature is complimented by by a sensitive undercurrent that is reminiscent of L.A. Confidential’s Bud White. Gosling on the other hand is the bumbling fool who likes to fall from buildings to impress girls and speak German when he doesn’t like someone. Gosling’s comic timing is impeccable and shows a real talent for being able to make an idiot of himself.

Having written the likes of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight director Black has built his career on films such as this. His sharp scripts and knowing humour give his films real zip, while his clever writing manages to subvert genres clichés in a way that people only seem to think that Joss Whedon can do. Despite this only being Black’s third film as director he seems to have developed an eye for action, which is closer to superhero than it is to realism and has a darkly comic edge to it.

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For a film that has so much going for it, it’s a shame that it’s blistering start inevitably sags in the middle third. As the plot thickens sub-plots develop and conspiracies appear. It’s only natural for a film of this nature to evolve this way, but The Nice Guys threatens to become too confusing and self involved as one revelation too many will muddy the waters, it slows events down and the lull is keenly felt despite the best efforts of all involved.

Even so, The Nice Guys is full of redemption in the final act and everything kicks into overdrive. The film finally gets a physically threatening villain in Matt Bomer’s John Boy and Kim Basinger plays the political card to devastating effect. In spite of it’s wonky second act, The Nice Guys is a very enjoyable romp full of energy and plenty of belly laughs. Fans of Shane Black will love it and everyone else should find something to enjoy even if it doesn’t work out as well as had been hoped for.

Extras:

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  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Always Bet on Black
  • Worst Detectives Ever
  • Alternative Theatrical Trailer
  • Cast Interviews
  • Photo Gallery

Film: 3/5
Extras: 3/5

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