The Nice Guys - This Movie '70s Rocks (So, Discos Then?)
Dir: Shane Black
Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley
Shane none-more-Black continues to indulge his fondness for the underside of LA life, this time relocating himself to 1977, complete with a lovingly recreated and detailed backdrop that brings back to life the old Tower Records, The Comedy Store when Tim Allen and Richard Lewis were the marquee names, and more besides. His latest as co-writer and director also gives the man the opportunity to deliver unto us his finest characters since Riggs and Murtaugh all those years ago.
Going with a dual mock-noir voice over, Crowe delivers his finest work in too many years to count as hard man for hire Healey, who inadvertently finds himself in Black’s most convoluted plot since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, paired alongside largely drunken – and really rather endearingly stupid - private eye Gosling (also on his finest form here) who, when he isn’t reaching for a bottle is struggling to raise his daughter (a star-in-the-making turn from Rice.) There’s a dead porn star – of course, amazed Black didn’t manage to shoehorn one into Iron Man 3 – and a plot awash with political corruption, family betrayal and a healthy dose of very funny nostalgia. Think Chinatown set in the ‘70s, with James Ellroy taking a pass at it. But this still remains uniquely none-more-Black’s voice. He’s had an erratic, if at times stratospheric career, but this is by far his best script (co-authored with Anthony Bagarozzi) since the original Lethal Weapon, the movie that to all intents and purposes invented the “buddy movie” as we know it – something that Black even pays sly tribute to here. Plus, it has a great Hitler joke and an even better Nixon one – and those things don’t come down the pike every day.
As with a lot of Black’s plotting, it’s all over the place at times, but it never fails to amuse or impress, and features two stand out turns from the guys in the lead. And another from the teenager. Nice all round.
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