The Nice Guys

I remember talking to Shane Black post-Iron Man 3 and, man, the guy was spent. It didn't seem to be a very fun experience for him. Do you blame him? The marvel enterprise can suck the living creative juices in you. The fact that he made a more than watchable Iron Man movie said a lot about the fight he had to endure to squeeze any sort of formula out of his film. By that token I think Marvel learned a lot from that experience as well because their movies, ever since then, have become way more robotic and structured in nearly robotic-ally duplicitous ways.

Black's The Nice Guys plays like a nice double feature to Black's earllier film Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang which was mesh up of all the buddy cop cliches thrown into a self-referential bucket of witty urban hipster wisdom. The Nice Guys stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in a plot that is almost impossible to explain coherently, but here goes: March (Gosling) is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of famous porn star Misty Mountains. The leads bring him to a girl named Amelia, which leads him to private eye Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe) and his brass knuckles, both it seems have been hired by Amelia. Amelia then ends up missing which forces both to team up. That, in essence, is the simplest way to describe the plot. My advice is don't follow it, just go along with the narrative structure Black devises here. It's a lite version of Inherent Vice which is to say that, compared to Vice, it's comprehensible, you will know who is who and what is at stake.

Black seems to relish in the buddy cop genre. He loves the machoism that comes with the genre. So much so that he prefers to concentrate on the budding relationship of the duo than the actual plot. It worked wonders in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and, for the most part, it does as well here. But we are not entering any fresh territory here, this is a redux of the latter. If you're fine with that, as I was, then you'll find some nice textural treats in this film. Gosling and Crowe seem to build chemistry as the story goes along, that's the key really with this and Kiss Kiss - There has to be chemistry, if there isn't then the whole megilah is screwed. You have to be sucked into the likeability of the characters. It's not hard for that to happen when you have Ryan Gosling who is known to be one of the great personality actors of the industry. Crowe just needs to play his serious-dude shtick the right way and what you get is a winning formula [B]