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Top 20: 'The Nice Guys'

Shane Black's Answer to 'Can You Make a Great but Underrated Film That Becomes Thankfully Available on Netflix Not Long after Release but Is Still Tragically Overlooked?' (It was a very specific question.)

By Conor HuftonPublished 6 years ago 3 min read
Don't think there are enough characters on this one. There's an extra who walks past in the first 5 minutes who isn't on here.

Well those guys sure were nice, weren’t they? End of review. You’ll be wishing it was before long.

An ill-suited pair of investigators become embroiled in a complex plot involving a girl’s disappearance and an adult film star's unusual death. That would’ve been the title if it was in any way a good tagline. Shane Black who also directed the comparable Kiss Kiss Bang Bang elaborates on the raw energy, interactions and world from that film to create The Nice Guys.

Russel Crowe turns in a multi-faceted performance as a soft-spoken, brutal vigilante with mostly hidden sensitivity and compassion. Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling shows undeniable range as a drink-addled, emotionally-troubled detective with surprising capability. Like in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, their relationship blossoms at a conceivable speed and for conceivable reasons.

In nature, their overall dynamic is reasonably predictable given their conflicting traits, but flavoured with refreshing methods of showing familiar derives. For example, a calculated and deceptively simple scene involves Crowe finding Gosling in a bathroom and Gosling’s sophisticatedly slapstick attempts to maintain dignity in the circumstances. The scene effortlessly highlights the differences between the two and solidifies the tone of the ongoing relationship.

There’s a sense of extremely unique humour in this film, adding complexity to simple ideas. Some of the most imaginative plausibly nuanced scenes include an interview with protesters, disposal of a body during a hedonistic party, and probably some other ones I can’t currently name.

The main appealing feature of the film is the plot. Every development is brilliantly planned, understandable and complex with a sense of intrigue, and genuine unpredictably that lasts throughout. Every confrontation in the scene is as gripping & excited as the filmmakers intended. The narrative is endlessly fast flowing and all dimensions of the characters success are covered. There are points when the characters experience genuine failure and the audience is given every reason to believe this will remain unresolved. There is an extremely genuine sense of consequence and jeopardy brilliantly woven into scenes of creatively dark humour where the tension is alleviated but never forgotten. Motivations are strong and in typical film noir fashion, attention to detail is pivotal. Initially fleeting statements are given valid and important incorporation into the story. In one potential distressing scene, this device is ingeniously called to attention and parodied. Every character is colourfully enlivened with plausible eccentricity while serving obvious purpose. The action sequences are well-synchronised with a sense of immersive realism and every antagonist is believably threatening, avoiding the caricatured portrayals that would hamper this. Believable and un-indulgent performances from Keith David and Kim Basinger appear. A cast member from Spiderman Homecoming plays Ryan Gosling’s mature and capable daughter, who the audiences are occasionally cleverly reminded is still a child in spite of her intuitiveness.

This isn't Ryan Gosling's daughter. The film isn't THAT rife with plot twists.

In relation to plot, the film’s experimentation with genres is flawless, ranging from buddy comedy to genuine crime drama with elements of thriller and action, never once devaluing or misusing any of the genre identifiers.

The film flaunts an impeccable sense of style helped by the 70s setting that gives it an even stronger identity than the plot already established. There’s a keen sense of lighting creating a polished image that lends itself to the setting by contrasting with the darker elements of the tale. The genuine sense of place is rich, with scenes taking place in different mooded settings from elaborate parties to sophisticated functions to barely inhabited and unwelcoming hotel rooms. The outfits and general scenery are un-distractingly vibrant and authentic (I assume, I wasn’t there).

The Nice Guys is a criminally underrated genre-spanning work that delivers as much heart, story depth, character growth style, and intellect as the codifiers of the film noir genre it endearingly homages.


About the Creator

Conor Hufton

getting better at this writing thing (aka slowly learning the alphabet, learnt how to use pen). Spanning critical writing, fantasy, parody and sci-fi (ruining all of them in the process).

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