THE NICE GUYS. Dazzling Gosling and Crowe in a great action movie

“The Nice Guys” is, unsurprisingly, sparkling with witty dialogues and clever gags, featuring a great pair of main characters between whom there’s a fantastic chemistry.

Lukasz Budnik

31 March 2024

Written by Piotr Zymelka.

One of my favorite movie genres is the buddy movie, which is a story about two completely different characters (usually cops) who, despite their differences, have to work together to solve a difficult criminal puzzle and become friends during the investigation. Some of the first examples include “The Last Boy Scout,” “48 Hrs,” “Bad Boys,” “Lethal Weapon,” the third Indiana Jones, and the excellent (and hopefully it stays that way) “Lethal Weapon” tetralogy. A few years ago, another candidate joined this group, definitely not well-known, namely “The Nice Guys” by Shane Black.

It’s Black himself, a screenwriter (and here also a director), who perfected the buddy movie formula and brought it to perfection. He’s responsible, among other things, for creating one of the best duos in cinema history: Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh from the aforementioned “Lethal Weapon.” “The Nice Guys” is, unsurprisingly, sparkling with witty dialogues and clever gags, featuring a great pair of main characters between whom there’s a fantastic chemistry. All set in the colorful ambiance of Los Angeles in the late seventies.

Russell Crowe (as the hired muscle Jackson Healy) and Ryan Gosling (as the borderline alcoholic private detective Holland March) play the protagonists who, while searching for a young girl (played by Margaret Qualley, daughter of Andie MacDowell), whose life is threatened by ruthless thugs, discover they’ve stumbled upon a conspiracy reaching wider and wider circles, involving the pornographic film industry and the automotive business. The criminal intrigue, though rather standard, serves only as a backdrop for the portrayal of the characters’ relationship. And, in accordance with the Black standard, they don’t start off particularly fond of each other, but gradually become devoted friends. Of course, along the way, there are plenty of gunshots, a few broken bones, and a dozen or so bodies.

Comparisons to “Lethal Weapon” are inevitable, although both duos differ enough not to call it a copy. The Crowe-Gosling duo is further supported by Angourie Rice, playing March’s daughter. Usually, the presence of children in “adult” plots unnecessarily simplifies the story and introduces excessive clichés. Fortunately, there’s no such problem here, and Holly March knows how to talk back to both main characters in a way that really gets to them. Black also avoids turning her into an annoying, smarter-than-everyone teenager, while still endowing her with the appropriate dose of teenage naivety. The cast is further enriched by the rarely seen Kim Basinger and Keith David, known from John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” “There’s Something About Mary,” or the excellent story about Californian sanitation workers – “Men at Work.” Robert Downey Jr. also briefly appears as… a corpse.

Originally, a TV series was planned, but it was eventually decided that the story would be better presented as a single, compact narrative. Black, a genre virtuoso, perfectly blends humor with thrills; there are also a few slightly more serious moments, although they don’t affect the overall mood. At times, it also seems that the plot serves only as a pretext; there’s no mystery that we solve along with the characters. In a few places, the pace could be slightly faster, but there’s no point in nitpicking too much because “The Nice Guys” is simply high-quality entertainment cinema.

So it would seem that the film is destined for success. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, it didn’t do well at the box office, and most likely, a sequel will never see the light of day, although both Black and Crowe announced they’d be happy to shoot one. Some time ago, there was an idea for a spin-off TV series with female characters, but nothing more is heard about it. On one hand, it’s a pity because we lack such “smaller,” well-made productions, but on the other hand, it might be for the best because we have one good title that won’t be diluted by weak sequels. I highly recommend “The Nice Guys” because it’s a piece of great thrills with excellent dialogues and brilliant performances by Crowe and Gosling. More of these, please!

Łukasz Budnik

Lukasz Budnik

He loves both silent cinema and contemporary blockbusters based on comic books. He looks forward to watching movie with his growing son.

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