From the opening bars of the funky 1970s soundtrack and the stylised font appear ing over the heavily deteriorated Hollywood sign, writer/director Shane Black has you hooked. The Nice Guys sees Russell Crowe playing an LA “enforcer” whose path crosses Ryan Gosling’s dishevelled private investigator. The latter has no sense of smell, mistakes “eunuch” for “Munich” and relies on his 13-year-old daughter (the excellent Angourie Rice) to be a moral compass. He also has a drunken proclivity for falling off and through everything. Especially glass. Both team up on a wild goose chase which plays out as if Roman Polanski had made Chinatown a screwball comedy. While the script feels like Black-by-numbers (a Chandler-esque mystery featuring a mismatched duo and quotable zingers), all familiar beats are kept fresh by the retro setting, Gosling’s impeccable slapstick antics and the central duo’s franchise-making chemistry. All in all, this consistently funny and farcically violent crime caper works as a love letter to the pulp detective genre and stands as a worthy companion piece to Black’s undervalued Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
The Nice Guys | Directed by Shane Black (UK, USA, 2016) with Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling. Starts June 2.
Originally published in issue #150, June 2016.