The Nice Guys is another buddy-buddy action movie where the trailer promised a cracking run of hilarious gags as Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) – who always lets his fists do the talking (usually his right hook) – teams up with Holland March (Ryan Gosling), family man to backtalking 13-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).
He’s on the trail of a woman called Amelia who seems to know a lot of bad men, there’s an adult actress (aka porn star) called Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio) who makes a dramatic entrance in a brilliant opening scene – her character named after one of the production companies involved in this film, there’s lots of people dying, lots of double crossing, March has, written in ink on his right hand, “You will never be happy” – never a truer word said when Crowe has to resort to breaking his left arm early on in a scene at which I’ll never stop wincing – and which is now one of my new all-time favourite movie scenes; and the locations for which remind me of the cut-scenes for the 1970s-set Grand Theft Auto III.
Many great one-liners early on, such as when March is chastised for shouting, “Jesus Christ!”, having been told not to “take the Lord’s name in vain”. He replies: “I didn’t. I found it very useful, actually.” However. the magic lasts for 40 mins, at which point it slows down and then there’s only occasional flashes of brilliance. It needs more humour and more ’70s music.
However, I did notice a nod to the Shane Black-scripter The Last Boy Scout when Holly calls her father “a fuck-up”, just as Danielle did to Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) in the 1991 movie. In fact, Holly spends most of the time tagging along in this one, too.
With a plot that feels rather convoluted at times, The Nice Guys comes across more like a series of set-pieces than a coherent film, but it’s definitely the best I’ve seen Russell Crowe in a long time.
And like the plot struggling to move along, so was the face of Kim Basinger, as Judith Kuttner, Dept of Justice Chief, since she’s had so much botox stuck into it over the years.
There’s a definite set-up for a sequel, too, which I would welcome, but I hope Shane Black works more on the script and takes the running time down a notch. 100 minutes is all you need for a film like this. At almost two hours, it easily needed to lose the last 20 minutes, which was so noticeable given all those elements it was lacking.
So, The Nice Guys is pretty nice, but could’ve been a whole lot nicer.
The Nice Guys isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but click on the poster, and all of the other images, for the full-size versions.
Running time: 116 minutes
Studio: Icon Film Distribution
Format: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Kowa Scope, Anamorphic Panavision)
Released: June 3rd 2016
Director: Shane Black
Producer: Joel Silver
Screenplay: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
Music: David Buckley and John Ottman
Jackson Healy: Russell Crowe
Holland March: Ryan Gosling
Holly March: Angourie Rice
John Boy: Matt Bomer
Amelia Kuttner: Margaret Qualley
Tally: Yaya DaCosta
Older Guy: Keith David
Blueface: Beau Knapp
Mrs Glenn: Lois Smith
Misty Mountains: Murielle Telio
Bergen Paulsen: Gil Gerard
Jessica: Daisy Tahan
Judith Kuttner: Kim Basinger
Chet: Jack Kilmer
Kid on Bike: Lance Valentine Butler
Bobby: Ty Simpkins
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.