Opening with a beautiful shot looking over the Hollywood sign and the 70’s Los Angeles sprawl, The Nice Guys couldn’t have started any better.
From there on in… eh.
As a huge fan of Ryan Gosling, an appreciation for what spellbinding performances Russell Crowe can produce every so often (Les Miserables definitely not part of that category), and a couple of great trailers, there was a palpable sense of expectation heading into the film.
However, once that first shot fades and the story itself kicks in, it was quickly dialled down. There are more than a few ‘WTF’ moments in this film, and Director Shane Black has a tendency to do this (first in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and then infamously in Iron Man 3). These could be forgiven, or even enjoyed on occasion.
The film struggles in the moments it goes for broke with its more script-central comedy, where its misses far outweigh the hits.
The action is well shot and enjoyable, but it’s only sprinkled throughout the film, with the bulk of the weight falling on the back-and-forth between Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe).
Their performances are top-notch, and they commit themselves to their material from the get go. It’s their joyful dynamic that single-handedly saves the film. The material itself is fairly mediocre, the jokes not as hard-hitting as the writers must’ve thought when they first penned the script. Credit has to go to the leads for making the best out of a bad situation, as well as newcomer Angourie Rice, who plays the independent young daughter of Holland beautifully.
Everything else is just… there. It’s a buddy-cop movie, so it’s not like anyone should expect a film like Heat going in. Still, even by its own standards, the plot is shoddily paced and poorly explained, leaving some in the cinema leaning to their partners and friends to reconfirm what the hell was actually happening.
There are moments when The Nice Guys hits home, and when it does it does so beautifully, achieving a near-perfect blend of action and comedy.
The problem though is that, when a couple of bits hit home after the dozens before were a swing and a miss, it leaves an underwhelming strike rate by the time it ends.
Sure, it’s funny, well-shot and charismatic, but it’s only that for a portion of the near 2 hour run time.
If you’re the kind to take the good with the bad, go see it at once. If you want a cohesive and consistently enjoyable experience at the movies, save this one for the bargain bin.
Rating – 6.5/10
The Nice Guys is out in Australia in the 26th May and is rated MA15+ for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use
Directed by: Shane Black
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Angourie Rice