There is an interesting thing about stories. We never want to experience them without knowing what they are about. When was the last time you sat down to watch a film you knew absolutely nothing about? Or bought a book that you didn’t read the blurb? I’m guessing the answer to both wouldn’t be far off never. If you’re going to invest time in to something you want to know what its all about. So how do you do that without ruining the film? You look up the director, the actors, the genre and the plot. You’ll watch the trailer. Then you sit down ready for everything this film throws at you. Sometimes however films are made that even though you know all this information, they take you by surprise on every level. So let’s approach this review in a different way to what I usually do.
The Director – Shane Black is a writer first and foremost. His talent for writing is up for debate, seeing as he wrote Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3. One an absolute classic that will stick in the pop culture pshycé forever. The other was the worst Marvel Studios film by a long way. Directing wise he doesn’t wow. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a lot of fun, but incredibly disjointed and Iron Man 3 was the worst Marvel Studios film by a long way. The Nice Guys however is fantastic in both screenplay and direction. It’s incredibly fast pace, the way he has positioned the characters with each other and how he has crafted this little bit of the 80’s just all worked. Writing wise there are some very funny jokes, very funny situations and actually for such a silly film, so heart. Surprise number one.
The Actors – The funniest thing Russell Crowe had done before this was convince the casting director of Les Mis he could sing. Thus I expected him to be one hundred percent straight in this film, however he was refreshingly funny and proved that he has some comedic chops this late in to his career. Angourie Rice who plays the daughter of Holland March is fantastic. I’ve never seen her in anything or heard of her, mainly because she is only a child, but her comedic timing is fantastic, she stole the show. Surprise number two. The one thing not surprising was Ryan Gosling, who I already knew was incredibly talented and funny and he backs that up again.
The Genre – This film screams Buddy Cop movie and in some ways I guess it is. However it is also a very clever satire on 70’s action films, it avoids most of the common tropes involved with buddy cop movies and also becomes a bit of mystery part way through. Overall though it’s just a really good comedy that focuses primarily on making you laugh which took me by surprise. With the casting etc. I figured it’d be like a Lethal Weapon. Of course it’s funny in points, but there’s a lot of serious crime fighting action. This film however makes the action funny, which has to be drawing inspiration from Edgar Wright. Its subverts and exceeds the genre implications and thus becomes surprises number three.
The Plot – This was the biggest surprise. The plot tells you nothing about this film. The plot is secondary to this film. The plot is two private investigators who, almost accidentally, end up researching strange murders surrounding a porno. That makes this plot seem a little bit too crazy and over the top. When it’s tied in with government corruption and conspiracy theories about birds not being able to breathe, the plot could run away from itself and it does. However each individual scene is so well written and crafted and the laughs come so often that it doesn’t matter at all. The plot is just there for the jokes to fit in which I just didn’t expect before sitting down.
The film was funny and refreshing. It was clever and dumb. It was the biggest surprise of the year and one of the best films I’ve seen thus far. I argued with a friend a bit back about actors. He said there’s no one like the old guard coming through. I said we are on the brink of a lot of actors about to shine, actors like Ryan Gosling and I’m glad he once again proved me right. It was also nice to see that the future of movie acting is in good hands as well, when a little girl outshines Russell Crowe then you know there’s a lot to look forward too. Also the machines weren’t working for our Limitless cards so we got free drinks and ice cream which just made the whole thing better. (Yet another win for Odeon’s customer service this year)