The Nice Guys a Window into Not-So-Nice Seventies Detective Genre

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The Nice Guys on Blu-ray

Shane Black's THE NICE GUYS is a retro-cool foray into the seedy seventies. And nowhere were the seventies more seedy than in smog-choked, porn-brimming Los Angeles, where our two not-exactly-heroes, Jackson Healy (RUSSELL CROWE) and Holland March (RYAN GOSLING) meet up.

Jackson is a Fist for Hire. You give him money, he delivers your message. Holland is a private cop, a detective who specializes in drawing out a case long enough to get a second check before writing the whole case off as lost. When Jackson is hired by the girl Holland has been hired to find, the two find themselves thrown into a missing person's case that reaches all the way to the top of the Department of Justice, headed by Judith Kuttner (KIM BASINGER). Soon the two of them -- joined by Holland's thirteen year old smarter daughter, Holly (ANGOURIE RICE) -- are searching high and low for perhaps the last person connected to a porn film who hasn't been killed for the political content of the movie, stumbling upon clues and having flashes of brilliance along the way before ultimately piecing together what's really going on -- by which time a hit man (MATT BOMER) is already closing in on them.

Superbly blending comedy and suspense, THE NICE GUYS is unrelentlingly crude when necessary, sensitive in all the right places, and pitch perfect in tone. Crowe's portrayal of Jackson Healy put me in mind of a younger John Goodman in terms of toughness and humor, and Gosling's physical comedy delivers a would-be man of action who bobbles every attempt at being the hero. Rice is the glue that allows the interaction between the two men to achieve a balance, putting each of them in their place when necessary, and bringing to the fore Healy's fatherly instincts that drove his previous business.

This Blu-ray release includes a documentary on Shane Black that stitches together interviews with the cast and crew, as well as Black himself, who hints at a sequel. There's also a making-of feature that contains more of the same, blended with the filming of certain key scenes.

Having watched THE NICE GUYS for the first time, I can only hope the rumors of Black helming a new cinematic vision of THE DESTROYER come to pass, as he demonstrates he's got the perfect flair for such a project.

Previews on this release include WAR DOGS, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, THE CONJURING, and BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0