Shane Black’s newest feature is a spiritual successor to his previous noir film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang one of the finest films of the 2000’s. Having since then helmed Iron Man 3 he returns to the buddy cop/Private eye films of which he has been so successful in the past.
Set in 1977 a down on his luck P.I Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is searching for a lead in a missing person’s case that requires him to track down Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley). Amelia, however, doesn’t want to be found and hires enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate March so he will stop following her. Healy breaks March’s arm and warns him to stay away. Following the encounter Healy is almost killed by two thugs questioning him about Amelia’s whereabouts. In order to track Amelia down again Healy teams up with Holland March, and his daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), this leads them into an ever deepening conspiracy.
Shane Black’s handling of this film is perfection as he captures the tone and feel of both his themes and setting. Having co-written the script with Anthony Bagarozzi I was continually caught up in hysterical laughing fits by the sharp wit of the material and the fantastic performances of both Gosling and Crowe, who get the measure of the films comic sensibilities to a tee. Gosling’s erratic Private Detective is a pleasure to watch as he continually fumbles his way into one idiotic venture after another. His chemistry with both Crowe and Rice is just a joy to watch as the characters inhabit their roles with the kind of natural ease that you just sit back and enjoy the spectacle that takes place. Angourie Rice is a real find as Holland March’s young daughter Holly with the kind of hilarious, mature, display that seemed evocative of Chloe Grace’s Moretz performance as Hit-girl from Kick Ass. She’s by no means as vulgar with her language or bloody in her action but the beyond her year’s performance is no less revelatory. Shane Black’s direction is slick, cohesive and masterfully composed. His sense of timing is flawless and is especially noticeable in the films fast paced action set-pieces which are wonderfully controlled and orchestrated in their composition. All of the supporting cast are terrific in their roles and Phillipe Rousselot’s fantastic cinematography captures the essence of the seventies with a style and swagger that is a joy to behold.
There’s little to surmise other than to say that you should definitely check out this fantastic film, Shane Black fan or not. It’s one of the best movies of the year and I hope you have the time to check out The Nice Guys.
Review by Alexander Halsall