Shane Black strikes it lucky with the unlikely comic pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, a hare-brained missing person’s caper set in 1977 Los Angeles.
The script delivers big, throaty laughs and adroitly juggles physical and verbal humour, inflicting injuries and indignities on his leading men for our sport and entertainment.
It’s a groovy kind of bromantic love and Crowe and Gosling relish the to and fro of the snappy dialogue as they gleefully contend with the fashions of the era.
The Nice Guys doesn’t quite soar to the dizzy heights of Black’s previous escapades, but he comes close, retaining an enviable ability to conjure jaw-dropping one-liners out of nowhere.
Like when the central duo is detained by a police officer who is simply following the rulebook.
“You know who else was just following orders? Hitler!” counters Jackson.
The central plot is a morass of crosses, double crosses, bluffs and coincidences that intrigues and bamboozles, untangling itself in the closing frames with aplomb.