The Nice Guys Blu-ray Review

Niceties

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Writer/director Shane Black lands with Nice Guys, his splendidly dark and morbid story of mismatched P.I.s. A buddy movie, yes, but a subversive (and never coy) story of porn, cars, and corruption.

Splendidly timed, Nice Guys produces a level of humor which stretches from ardently raunchy to the mannerisms of Abbott and Costello. Nice Guys even chews on the tropes of kids animation, placing a headstrong pre-teen girl into the mix, carrying better brains than the Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe pairing combined.

While flush with elements of every private detective and noir story, the disruption comes when averting expectations. The inadvertent deaths, the accidental discoveries, the purposefully obvious twists – a rare case where the audience can assert intellectual superiority over the main characters for laughs.

Like Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Nice Guys isn’t designed for wide audience acceptance…

Further upsetting the formula is a lack of internal conflict. Crowe and Gosling simply gel. While battering one another with sarcasm and baiting the other into appearing stupid, the duo work. That’s in context of their performance and the script, the latter which jettisons the typicality of a second act’s ending. They don’t break up and bond back together for an emotional send off. They stay their course, even with incompatible personalities.

Set in the early ‘70s, Nice Guys surrounds itself with appropriate Americana and lifestyle of the era. The oil crisis, billboards for dire studio sequels, a puritan attitude toward porn, and certainly the soundtrack selections; all of them leave Nice Guys with a near spoof of the era’s culture. The movie concerns itself with the fracas and comically awkward sense of action choreography. With a wink toward the camera and refreshing sense of closure (if still opened for an unlikely sequel), ending scenes cap Nice Guys with “personality” – a new thing in cinema 2016’s summer output.

Like Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Nice Guys isn’t designed for wide audience acceptance, but it’s likely to generate the same faithful fanbase in time. Its pessimism and cruelty (albeit in a slickly comedic way) connect in a similar way. If they’re not linked in terms of direct narrative, then a sort of Shane Black cinematic universe. Of this universe, we need more.

The Nice Guys Blu-ray screen shot 11

Video

Although shot with an eye for vintage filmmaking, the processes which power Nice Guys are all digital. Warner affords little space to this two hour film, locking it under 30GB total with a (sometimes) struggling encode. Most of the encoding battle forms around exteriors and aerials, a difficult fault when considering visual effects are aging Los Angeles’ skylines. However, muddiness in tree definition and other finer details call the compression into question.

In close, cinematography takes a bite. Facial detail turns on then off. A specific, vintage softness permeates the look. That’s fine and in its methods, an accurate throwback. Dressed in browns, oranges, and yellows for the sake of period feel, color dilutes while losing a bit of zest. However, the warmth compensates, leaving images pleasant. Flesh tones, although warmed slightly, maintain accuracy.

A slew of activity occurs at night, giving Nice Guys a slight noire-ish vibe in spots. This requires black levels which provide the depth. They do. Density stays strong and consistent. Alongside rich contrast, cinematography provides a comfortable bed for this Blu-ray to work from.

Audio

The flaccid DTS-HD 5.1 track delivers the rudimentary audio mix. Leaning heavily on the stereos for directionality, it seems the sound effort means to give Nice Guys an olden feel. Comparatively, Nice Guys mimics a late ‘70s era film in stereo brought into the modern era. This means sparse surround use only when absolutely needed, with a focus on pushing action to the sides.

Luckily, gunfire has better bite than such a comparison indicates. Subwoofer support aligns with each round, adding weight. Some shotgun blasts are thick.

In the opening scene, a car smashes through a house, traveling side-to-side. While promising – with debris falling into each channel – this becomes the highlight of Nice Guys. But, consider intent overall.

Extras

Two brief bonuses are not worth the time. Shane Black features in Always Bet on Black, an odd title considering the unfortunate box office results. Worst. Detectives. Ever. goes broader in focus before settling into a plot recap. These two featurettes won’t reach 12 minutes total bundled together.

  • Nice Guys
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Summary

Subversive to formula and darkly funny, The Nice Guys lets Russell Crowe & Ryan Gosling loose in a wild ’70s satire which deserved better at the box office.

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