Lethal Weapon ’77 – ★★★½
Shane Black has been writing action scripts since before you were going to playschool. With his first foray back in 1987 with Lethal Weapon we saw his talent for buddy cop films and slightly unhinged characters. With The Nice Guys nearly 30 years later, he’s showing us that he still has it and isn’t that bad at directing either.
Ryan Gosling plays semi-functioning alcoholic P.I. Holland March, whose young daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) has to keep him on the straight and narrow. Russell Crowe plays Jackson Healy a sort of thug for hire who doesn’t have the time or see the point in getting a proper P.I. licence. Hence the two detectives team up when their paths cross over the whereabouts of one Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley). The film has a convoluted plot all to do with the porn industry, motor corporations and the department of justice yet it all fits together snugly, a credit to Black’s writing.
Gosling and Crowe work fantastically together with Gosling as a high strung emotional type and clearly the brains of the operation. Crowe is the muscle with a big heart and small brain. Crowe said in an interview he decided to keep the weight on so as to be the very opposite of Gosling in every way and it pays off. The dynamic between the two conjures up De Niro and Grodin from Midnight Run and incorporating Gosling’s onscreen daughter Holly gives the film another level of emotional depth.
There are more than enough jokes to satisfy the moniker of comedy and with more twists and turns than most 40’s noir capers the film will keep you guessing until the bleak climax. Great writing will get you only so far, where a film like The Nice Guys shines is in the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling. The spirit of Riggs and Murtaugh couldn’t be in safer hands.
The Nice Guys opens Friday the 3rd of June.