The Nice Guys features two actors that I’m very intimately familiar with. Russell Crowe was the lead in Cinderella Man, which I used to consider my favorite film of all time. Ryan Gosling in the lead in Blade Runner 2049, which I consider my current favorite film of all time. With good reviews attached to this film around the time of its release, I made it a point to watch it… eventually. Some time (just less than a year) after I asked my mother to record it with our fancy smart TV, I got to it. Ended up being a decent choice.
Despite the interest in the film for its ratings and two leads, I wasn’t all that sure what to expect from it. Some hints at mystery and suspense, comedy, and fun times were my guess, though I didn’t picture it being so… deep? Not in the sense that it’s an art film with symbolism everywhere, but there’s subtle reasoning in the things that occur. Things that aren’t necessarily explained through blatant exposition.
While this is usually something that makes me appreciate a film more, here, it almost ends up being its downfall. To cut to the case, my biggest issue with The Nice Guys is its ending. For all the build-up and situations leading to a certain endpoint, it’s pretty anticlimactic, even if that may have been the point. Some have noted that this is more of an introspective picture, where the characters’ motivation to live and to do what they do is what really counts. I could see this, although I didn’t, really.
There’s taking a subtle approach, and then there’s spreading it out so thin that it becomes forgotten. I recall certain doses—lines and scenes—attributed to some silent contemplation, only I never felt it made any coherence to the plot at hand. Some steady way of developing these characters and making them human, sure, but that only went so far. What I will end up remembering from this is the constant action and some of the admittedly humorous comedy bits. There’s one scene where an officer is interrogating the two leads, and he goes, “Sorry, guys, I can’t let you off. I’m just following orders.” Gosling responds to this by saying, “Y’know who else was just following orders? Hitler.” Crowe just looks at him like he’s an asshole. That was pretty good.
People say that “fun” is a pretty common component of a good film. Sometimes, I don’t understand what this means, as “fun” to me is what most consider “elitism.” However, The Nice Guys does end up pretty fun, if only for the chemistry of the characters. A lot of the action bits are better emphasized by the comedy tone (alas, the serious bits are still kind of boring). There’s a nice balance between self-awareness of absurdity and trying to paint the world as a realistic setting. Its ending comes down a little too hard on one end specifically.
This also suffers a tad from having its re-watch value shot… somewhat. I could see myself wanting to see this again if only to better analyze the subtle character quirks that many point out, but as a general thing, I asked myself whether I would want to watch this again after it ended. I mentally shrugged. Knowing how the story goes—with the twists and turns it takes parallel to the “truths” of reality—I’m unsure it could surprise me anymore, even when looking for other clues. All this film really has in my eyes is a good pair of leads and a cute kid. Story’s fine, perhaps a little overambitious.
Pretty good. Ryan Gosling’s high-pitched screams also tickled me in a weird way. Might want to see more of that in his film career.
Final Score: 6.5/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
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