Not very “Nice Guys” Russel Crowe, Ryan Gosling and writer / director Shane Black just brought one hell of an adrenaline shot to what is effectively Lethal Weapon Reloaded.
Ok this is not really a Lethal Weapon reboot… an unfair simplification, but this is it’s original writer. Shane Black can be credited with plenty more on top of creating Murtagh and Riggs – The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and not my favourite (but hoardes of folks loved it) – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Most recently Mr.Black stretched his legs again with Iron Man 3. It had it’s ups and downs, but displayed glimpses of ingenuity and individuality with use of black humour and some memorable character interplay that surpassed what was required from a third movie in a franchise like this.
This film is like Shane Black’s greatest hits or a comeback album, where writing and directing give him full creative control. The cast are clearly having a whale of a time misbehaving. Not quite as edgy as In Bruges, but if you caught it remember the liberating, guilty pleasure you felt on hearing that non PC script, letting the “loveable” assasins get away with it. Gosling shows as with the recent turn in The Big Short, that he can do comic timing, not just being handsome / moody / brooding.
The genre feel, locations and visual style immerse us into the vibe of the story, allowing leads Crowe and Gosling to be suitably charismatic with effortless chemistry and snappy dialogue. Both go large and small in the range of their performances, proving they both have the experience to bring depth and nuance where there doesn’t really need to be any.
A non-precocious Gosling’s daughter character is brilliantly played by Angourie Rice, who is given a respectful amount of screen time and a genuine role to play in the narrative too. In fact all the “kids” that get a part in this film often shine in unexpected ways.
The humour and violent outbursts come as a shock at times, but judge the line perfectly between not going too far, while seeking to provoke a reaction from the audience. This is quick witted, Aaron Sorkin quick, demanding that you pay attention and keep, up otherwise you’ll miss a beat. Like so many of us (and Russel), it could lose a couple of pounds around its’ the running, but this is ultimately forgivable when the other components parts are this good.
The Nice Guys don’t play as nice or as cute as Lethal Weapon. This is a more grown up Shane Black. More mature in some of his immaturity, blended with spikes of humour and violence that sometimes jar a little. However there is a quality control and subtlety to how these are judged. I already want to spend some more time with The Nice Guys, be it repeat viewing for a gag I may have missed, or a potentially deserving sequel if Black and co could be re-enlisted – 9/10.