Monday, 4 July 2016

The Nice Guys (15)

Sometimes, you feel you are just meant to see a film.

Since its release, we've been planning to see The Nice Guys - but life has a way of getting in the way, and without fail at every turn we spectacularly didn't get to see it.

But it's still hanging around! It's still on the big screen! And life didn't get in the sodding way!

And so, finally, we get to watch Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe being 70s gumshoe detective sorts, directed by Shane Black of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3 fame.

Surely, having had to wait this long, it wasn't going to disappoint.

Was it?


How do you want this film judged? Plot? Acting? Direction? Or the fact we left without any socks on having laughed them off?

Because the latter was definitely the winner here.

The story itself is, ultimately, neither here nor there. Political schemering, missing daughters, bad guys, more bad guys and a smattering of the porn industry - this has the lot.

It's basically a love letter to 70's crime films.

The fact it doesn't make a whole lot of sense isn't a dealbreaker. If anything, it kind of adds to the whole feel of the thing.

Acting? Well, that's pretty bang on.

Ryan Gosling, it turns out, has one hell of a comic turn in him. The man who seems to sleep through his films can do the slapstick. Who knew, eh?

Then there's Russell Crowe, who on the back of this and The Water Diviner is looking like being back to his best.

Understated, subtle (I know, right?), he allows Gosling to make all the noise and just in-fills with the odd glance, nod and smart gag.

Oh, and there's a new kid in town too - Angourie Rice. For someone with such a short CV (she's not even 16) she delivers a performance of such maturity you'd swear she'd been acting her whole life.

So far so good then - but what of Mr Black's direction?

Having made his name with sharp, snappy dialogue and zippy, fast-paced action flicks, what I wasn't expecting here was an homage to the 70s.

From tone and pacing alone, Black has got this nailed - and when he starts throwing in the action and humour, you just know this is going to be good.

In fact, from the opening scene alone, you know you're in for one hell of a ride.

With the right soundtrack, and subtle background touches (Airport 77 and Jaws 2 billboards), Black has skilfully weaved everything you want from a black comedy action detective thriller.

In fact, he's probably invented a whole new genre.

But, it's not perfect (which is probably a good thing).

It's too long for a start, and there are some scenes that, while funny, don't necessarily add anything to the whole - and almost seem out of place.

There's also some near-the-knuckle conversations going on that you're pretty sure kids shouldn't be taking part in.

And no, you can't say "it was a different time". Just no. That's a whole different conversation.

But the negatives are small compared to the huge positives.

Great performances, superb slapstick violence, a ludicrous shoot-out around a palm tree - this is a film that just keeps on giving.

And when you think it can't give anymore, some one else dies in a lovely, gruesome way.

Money says there's a very welcome sequel.

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