For a film that started off quite slow and seemed to be going nowhere this film had one of the best third acts I’ve seen in a very long time.
The nice guys is directed by Shane Black and stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as two “investigators” who are searching for a girl named Amelia. After an initial misunderstanding the two partner together to help solve the case of missing Amelia and why, seemingly, everyone is looking for her. Now I’ll straight away point out that I’m not the biggest advocate of Ryan Gosling. I feel he’s quite overrated and I, before 2016, had yet to see a film starring him that I enjoyed. However this year “The big short” and now this are starting to turn me around a little bit. Gosling took this role by storm, he was consistently entertaining to watch and never failed to put a smile on my face (even if a joke didn’t hit right). Russell Crowe on the other hand initially felt a bit out of place, as the film went on though he definitely seemed more comfortable in the role. He came across as awkward and nervous, which is not what I should have been feeling considering he plays a badass hitman with years of experience. As I said, he does seem a lot more comfortable towards the end of the film but when he’s supposed to be a highly experienced “Investigator” (for lack of better word) you’d think he’d seem less awkward in his role. The rest of the cast was all relatively good, the goons did there job and were funny when on screen and the other small supporting characters were all funny and well cast (especially people like the bicycle boy near the start). A special mention goes to Angourie Rice who plays Holly, Ryan Gosling’s daughter, she proves that child actors can be just as competent as adults and that she can be just as funny as the huge stars she’s around. She’s one of the best child actors I’ve seen since “Room” and really stood out to me, I feel like we’ll see more of her in the future.
The plot for me took a while to kick in, avoiding spoilers, the first act was good.I liked the initial setup and the development of the mystery was intriguing and while the majority of this act was shown in trailers it still entertained me (that’s less an issue with the film but an issue with marketing). The second act is where I feel the film lost steam, it dragged on a bit and besides the party scene the jokes didn’t land as well as they did the first act. There is a haphazard attempt at character development between Ryan and russell that I felt was completely unnecessary in this act (I’ll refer to this as the pool scene). It had tone issues and while it set up one good joke it’s idea of trying to develop the relationship between Ryan and russell wasn’t at all needed because we got enough of that through their scenes anyway. Maybe if there had been more attempts at developing this relationship then this scene wouldn’t have felt so out of place and unneeded.
Now while I don’t mention anything in particular here, the rest of this paragraph could be deemed as spoiler territory.
The second act also brought the reveal of why people are looking for Amelia and considering how much the film had built up to this moment I felt really underwhelmed. This was supposed to be the big elaborate reveal but yet it felt quite predictable and uninspired. It wasn’t until in the third act, in which much more is revealed, that I started to get back on board with this film. In fact the entire 3rd act saved this film from becoming a disaster. Compared to the rest of the film this last act is more exhilarating, funny and interesting than all of the rest of the film combined. The set piece of the hotel/showroom is the most interesting of the film and the action is also really well done. The plot continues to surprise even at such a late stage and the bee scene shown in trailers is a highlight of how insane the end gets. The jokes take new extremes and the actual ending to the film was satisfying.
The film is directed really well, Shane Black continues to prove himself as a great director and this film has a very distinctive style. I liked what he did with a lot of the shots and I have nothing but praises for that side of things. The script, while consistently entertaining isn’t always hilarious. Not every joke hits the way I think they hoped it too, the laughs in the quite full cinema also backed this up, yes some pay off well but there was too many times I wasn’t laughing when I knew I was supposed to be.
Now what seems to have become a thing in these reviews is me picking a technical aspect that stood out to me and discussing it in depth, usually this is negative however sometimes it can be positive. I’ve decided that I’m gonna do this for all my reviews now and if you’re not interested in the paragraph you can always skip to the verdict.
For the first time in a long while the soundtrack in this film stood out to me. Normally I won’t notice it unless it’s really striking and well done (I.e “It follows” and “Pan’s labyrinth”) however this film stood out to me for a completely different reason. It was completely bland, dull and not fitting to the plot at all. This film has probably one of the weakest soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. If you ignore the use of two or three actual songs from the 70’s, which I will say fit well in their scenes, then the rest of the soundtrack was really poor. All of the music was dark and monotone and there was no up beat 70’s style beats like there should have been. There are films set in this timezone that have Amazing soundtracks and really take advantage of the disco setting and the colourful music of the 70’s, this however stuck to generic music that took away from some of the exciting action on scene. It honestly seemed like they’d got all their music off a “ambient music” or “intense music” video off youtube or some other generic genre defining music. The soundtrack is also the main reason as to why I disliked the pool scene so much. The joke of the pool scene was the highly contrasting conversation and tone with it being overall funny but in a serious way. So I have no idea why Shane Black decided to use this dark, mysterious music as if they were about to uncover some huge mystery. It added a third tone to the situation which didn’t work at all and threw off what could have been an interesting set piece. I actually feel like that scene and a few others would have faired better without any music at all. There is a distinct lack of scenes without some form of generic music in them and while not vital it could have helped the tone in places. Why Shane couldn’t have made the music a bit funkier I don’t know, but this bland and dull soundtrack stood out as being particularly awful.
Now while a lot of what I’ve said has been negative, I actually really enjoyed this film. In most comedies it’s rare for every single joke to hit the audience (unless you’re anchorman 2) in the way it’s expected and in some mystery films you may not always like the reveal but that’s just how it is. Some things,like jokes, are all down to personal preference and in my case they don’t all work. That doesn’t mean to say this film isn’t brilliantly casted, funny and interesting. The story may have dragged a bit in the middle but the amazing last act alone would give this film 4 stars. I came out of this film with a big smile on my face, which with the amount of crap I’ve seen recently, is a welcome change and if it wasn’t for a couple of hitches this would have probably scored a lot higher
Written by Dawson Roberts
Directed By- Shane Black
Produced By- Joel Silver
Written by- Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi