Shane Black can probably lay claim to rejuvenating the mismatched buddy action movie having started with ‘Lethal Weapon’ and continued to command multi-million dollar earnings from his scripts for ‘The Last Boy Scout’, ‘Last Action Hero’ (which is surely due a reappraisal) & ’The Long Kiss Goodnight’ before really hitting pay dirt when he wrote and directed ‘Iron Man 3’ which made a not inconsiderable $1.2billion in 2013 (an amount not dissimilar to what our Editor owes on his tab at The Nags Head pub)
But ‘Iron Man 3’ was the second movie Black directed with his first being the detective film noir influenced ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ a cracking little murder mystery from 2005 with the unlikely pairing of Robert Downey Jr & Val Kilmer. With the success of IM3 having earned him a bit of freedom he’s returned to the same genre with ‘The Nice Guys’ starring another unlikely pairing with Russell Crowe as an unlicensed PI and full time heavy doling out threats to men who prey on young girls and Ryan Gosling as an alcoholic widowed PI and father to a, wiser than her years, 13 year old daughter.
From the very start the film sets the tone with the bubbling riff of Shaft playing under the titles disco font as the camera pans across a 70’s era LA and in a typically Shane Black scene it explosively starts with the death of a porn star and from here the plot is instigated as to who killed her and why. With each actor setting out their individual stall they finally meet when Crowe, who seems to have doubled his body weight for the role, introduces himself to Gosling by giving him a right old battering before they end up having to work together to investigate the case which takes in some staples of the genre, some of which work well, most notably a scene at a porn Producers house party.
However unlike the genre it apes the plot is never really complex enough to be in the same league as say Elmore Leonard or James Elroy but the script has plenty of zingy one liners and whip smart cracks and Gosling, unlike the audience, never tires of pratfalls which he overplays a little too much by the end. This has all the trademarks of Blacks previous scripts: Christmas, a wise ass sibling and a running joke – here it’s innocent people in the background gettingmistakenly shot.
It’s a satisfying enough film and is clearly a genre that Black loves having introduced plenty of his own trademarks to the story it’s just a pity that it’s not as sharp as ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ but it’ll do nicely until his spin on comic book hero, Doc Savage, turns up.
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Here’s the trailer…..