The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys ★★★★★

"I think I'm invincible… I don't think I can die!"

I've long been an admirer of Shane Black, particularly as a writer. I know most cinephiles praise Quentin Tarantino's knack for dialogue - which is certainly worth praising, don't get me wrong - but in my honest opinion, when it comes to sheer wordsmithery, you should always bet on Black. His punchy prose and zingy one-liners are consistently brilliant, and are heavily influenced by hardboiled detective novels, of which he is a self-confessed enthusiast.

As for Black's movies, though, I've never really landed on a personal favourite. Sure, I've always liked Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight (that's a lot of L's), and thought Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was arguably the best work he'd ever done. But none of them really hit me in that sweet spot that I reserve for my all time faves. Not even KKBB. And would you believe it, The Nice Guys only went and did just that.

When it comes down to it, The Nice Guys shares the same story beats of your typical Shane Black buddy movie: two guys meet, butt heads, exchange witty banter, discover a complicated criminal plot, shit gets blown up, and part of the movie is set at Christmas. Moreover, within that structure, you're bound to get a healthy dollop of action and comedy, which you do here. Yet on top of that, The Nice Guys is also gifted with a surprisingly introspective screenplay (which seems to debate from its opening scenes as to what exactly constitutes a "nice guy"), superlative retro production design, and an awesome soundtrack of 70's hits (including The Temptations, Kool & the Gang, The Bee Gees, and Earth, Wind & Fire, who cameo in the film).

Above all else, the characters Black creates here are resonant and engaging across the board. Stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are both fantastic as stoic bruiser Jackson Healy and functioning inebriate Holland March, respectively. Crucially, they are very much their own characters, as opposed to carbon copies of Riggs & Murtaugh, Hallenbeck & Dix, or Lockhart & Van Shrike. Angourie Rice is terrific too, as March's adorable yet intelligent daughter, Holly, who rounds out our dysfunctional duo into a capable trio. And surrounding this trio is an equally vibrant supporting cast: shifty official Kim Basinger, energetic "loon" Margaret Qualley, sultry aide Yaya DaCosta, creepy hitman Beau Knapp, and brawny also-hitman Keith David. One standout for me, though, is Matt Bomer as Dr. John Boy Malick, who is quite possibly the best, creepiest, and most intimidating henchman Shane Black has ever created. And when that list includes the likes of Gary Busey, Taylor Negron, and Craig Bierko, that's some strong competion.

In conclusion, The Nice Guys is easily my favourite Shane Black movie yet, and one of my favourite films of 2016. Here's hoping it slays on home video so we can get to see the further adventures of Healy and March.

Well, what're you sitting around for? Go out and buy a copy!

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