Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Nice Guys

Shane Black's neo-noir buddy cop comedy The Nice Guys features good writing, solid acting and as much of a 70s retro vibe as you can handle. With undeniable chemistry between the two leads, this movie is full of quick comments and smart banter alongside great directional and aesthetic style, however it is still far from a perfect flick, with a sometimes messy story and a vibe of wasted potential.

Private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and enforcer and all-round badass Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) find themselves buddied up through unlikely circumstances in an investigation for a missing young woman, Amelia (Margaret Qualley). Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, an overarching conspiracy is revealed, reaching both into the prominent pornographic industry of the time as well as into the happenings of higher powers in the city.

This movie is undoubtedly carried by the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling in their lead roles, as any buddy comedy movie should be. The synergy between the two has allowed for smart writing and witty dialogue to translate well on to the screen, through their improbable pairing in a dire situation. Gosling's Holland March is a lazy, unsuccessful and usually drunk private eye, struggling to make a living with his young daughter Holly, played by Angourie Rice (who is just as impressive in this movie as Gosling and Crowe), and on the flipside, Crowe's Jackson Healy is professional, competent and in control as a hired enforcer, creating a compelling and interesting pairing in a genre defined by character synergy. Despite the heavy use of banter in dialogue between the two, some of their ventures feel quiet and uninspired, creating gaps between moments of enjoyment in the viewing experience. At the same time, while the dialogue is smart and creative, the movie's comedic value does not extend much further than this, and never really prompts more than a slight chuckle from its audience.

Black attempts to revive the buddy cop genre in The Nice Guys with a modern narrative which is more complicated and contains twists and turns which come unexpected in its telling. The vast involvement of the porn industry creates an interesting and enjoyable dynamic and provides plenty of room for the comedy of the film, however at times feels misguided and underutilized. While the story is mostly compelling and interesting, some of its complications feel forced or unexplained at times, leaving both the story direction and audience lost at certain times of the movie. This is not to say Black fails in his role as a writer-director, as the directional style of the film is as commendable as the performances of Crowe and Gosling. The movie's action sequences are well-choreographed and believable, while also effectively integrating physical comedy into character movements. The retro style of aesthetics creates a visually pleasing film, with colourful suits and nice cars as far as the eye can see, successfully pulling of the attempted 70s throwback the film aims for.

While this film sometimes loses its way, you can still expect to come out of a viewing entertained in some way or another, whether it be by the smart dialogue and chemistry of Crowe and Gosling, the pleasing directional and artistic styles, or the complicated crime story itself. Despite attempting to convey too many different themes and genres, and sometimes feeling messy and uninspired, this film is still worth a watch if you enjoy comedy, crime, Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Shane Black, the 70s, or porn.

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