Unless they are a fan of The Mandarin, people usually rave about Shane Black and his direction. Personally, I’ve never seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I have seen Iron Man 3 but it isn’t my favorite Iron Man film. With a great cast, an interesting premise and positive buzz around Black’s The Nice Guys, I was excited to finally see why he is lionized by many.
The Nice Guys… is okay.
High expectations have once again left me disappointed.
When a young woman goes missing, it takes the world’s worst detective (Ryan Gosling), his preteen daughter (Angourie Rice) and the enforcer who fractured said detective’s arm (Russell Crowe) to find her. However, they aren’t the only ones looking for the woman. In order to find her and keep her safe, the three have to solve the crime of the century.
Set in 1970’s Los Angeles, The Nice Guys promises mischiefs, laughs, and action. Thanks to its memorable characters, it fulfills that promise. Gosling and Crowe have excellent chemistry and their comedic timing will have audiences rolling with laughter. Rice is also a wonderful surprise due to her effortless banter with the two protagonists. When the film is trying to get a laugh, it rarely fails. In fact, the most notable moments of the film are the gags and slapstick sprinkled between action and exposition.
Which is why I wish there were more of those moments, because “the crime of the century” wasn’t that great. The mystery that was meant to drive the story forward ends up weighing the film down. The true criminals are never shown, only their lackeys. This causes confusion as to who is responsible for what. Pivotal clues that were necessary for the trio to connect the dots are never mentioned. So when a character does get an epiphany, the audience is left dumbfounded. Once one starts to think through the crime, there are several holes in the logic behind it. The very reason why Crowe and Gosling’s characters became involved initially is shaky once the truth is revealed. Part of me wishes there was a “Scobby-Doo” finale where the characters take time to clarify the mystery and how they were able to solve it.
Given the weak plot, the film faces several pacing issues. It drags on, having several beats where it could have ended. Were it not for the performances, audiences would have lost interest early on. The Nice Guys is also shockingly quiet. Despite a couple scenes, it lacks the iconic music of the decade. Even though almost every other aspect is true to the time period, a bit of music could energize potentially boring sequences.
If there is one thing I learned about Shane Black, it is that characters and comedy are his strengths. The Nice Guys may disappoint as a story, but it is a film worth watching for its characters. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time we see Gosling and Crowe working together. They truly are what kept this film from falling apart.
The Nice Guys was released May 20, 2016.