BAILEY THE LIBTARDTARIAN 💋’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's rare when you come across a movie that's so damn good you’re afraid to write about it because you believe you just can’t do it justice.
Coming off the rather divisive Iron Man 3 director Shane Black is indeed back once again delving into the kind of films he excels at: Complete, unrestricted Shane-Blackism. Unfamiliar with the term? Well, I’m coining it. If I had a favourite film genre and Shane-Blackism was an option, it certainly by up the top. Presenting to us murky crime worlds filled with sex, murder and debauchery with such persistent style and dark wit you can never turn away. His directorial debut "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" showed audiences the absolute talent the man has both behind the camera and on the page, now truly coming into his own with his best film to date: The Nice Guys.
I would recommend going into the film relatively blind and avoiding the gags they show in the trailers, but the film follows the incredibly unprofessional private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) as he investigates the death of porn star Misty Mountains and the disappearance of a person of interest Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley). Amelia however does not want to be found and calls upon hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate him, leading our unlikely duo and March’s intuitive daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) to team together to unfold the mysterious case as to what the hell is happening in 1977 Hollywood. It harkens back to films like The Coen Brothers' classic “The Big Lebowski” or Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” where crime is the joke and the results are the punchline as the filmmakers take us on very character focused and experience driven films. Allowing the aroma of groove and hallucinogens wash over you. Where The Nice Guys succeeds for me is how natural Black is when it comes to balancing drama with his unique dark, witty and physical comedy. Consistently I was left in absolute awe and hysterics as Black cranks his absurdity to 11 in what amounts to the ultimate buddy crime tale. It plays like an event movie that continues to impress as it continues. Rarely puting foot wrong besides the (gladly) minimal but static performance from Kim Basigner. Running at a surprising 1h 56m that I did not feel at all. The Nice Guys does a good job at hooking you with its premise, letting you analyse and piece the case together as it unfolds before your very eyes and then throwing a monkey wrench in the works to up the ante. Allowing Crowe, Gosling, Rice and his cast of characters to play off one another in a way only Shane Black can capture.
There’s a theme that runs through The Nice Guys that makes me confident it’ll work with multiple viewings. Showing the absurd process of the justice system and reality is different from the movies. It does a Lebowski where it plays with noir and its conventions, adding in that urgency and humour (based on the absurd crime scenarios seen by real life PI Jay Joseph), while never delving into *real* noir and becoming bigger than it actually is. It rides that line of knowing some of its emptiness, accepting it and delivering it home as a strength. Even using it as a central theme. It’s a crowd pleaser in every sense of the word as it embraces why we love the movies. Shot beautiful on Red Epic digital giving it that 35mm visual it that just echoes 1970s cinema. Sporting a gorgeous soundtrack with costume and set design that makes the period work so well. Shane Black knows how to treat his audience right. Giving it a beautiful aesthetic as the story goes big and plays big. Leaving you satisfied from ear to ear.
The Nice Guys reaffirms why witty, dark, unique crime tales are so engaging to me. I hear they plan to make a franchise out of The Nice Guys and if they do you can be damn sure I’ll be there to see it. It’s earned my attention the way all franchises should. It’s an absolute must see. I implore you to go see it because with franchises, “It’s about the money, Lebowski”, and this one certainly deserves it. Now excuse me, I’m gonna go interview some mermaids now.