One a relatively recent release, the other a movie I missed in 2015, both feature big name actors in roles we’re not used to seeing them, but that’s where the similarities end:

The Nice Guys

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After seeing The Nice Guys mentioned in several lists about the ‘best movies you missed last summer’ or something along those lines, I decided to give it a shot, even though I’m no fan of Russel Crowe, the 70’s aesthetic, or what basically amounts to a buddy comedy, for that matter.

I have mixed feelings about the movie. For one thing, I don’t really get the comedy aspect. Nothing really stands out as hilarious, although there were a couple of funny spots throughout the film.

On the plus side, it was nice to see Gosling play something other than the mysterious, silent, brooding leading man, and watching him portray a blubbering drunk and incompetent P.I. was a pleasant surprise. Under the same category: Crowe’s deadpan delivery of a couple of lines was actually funnier than Gosling’s entire performance. The casting choices are somewhat puzzling, but it was also nice to see Kim Basinger again, looking gorgeous as ever, along with the stunning Margaret Qualley, whom I’ve loved ever since The Leftovers.

Another positive was the overall depiction of 70’s glam and appropriately selected color palette, culminating in that Playboy-mansion-copycat extravaganza. The whole movie feels like a more racy and violent Lethal Weapon-type comedy-adventure film moved back a decade, and that’s not a bad thing.

What’s lacking, however, are the elements that would make this an instant hit: the plot was lacking and what little mystery it boasts is underwhelming. Bad buys John Boy and Blueface were so over the top that they didn’t really register as believable villains. Amelia, the girl everyone was after throughout the first 90′ was downright annoying, and, most importantly, Gosling and Crowe just make a really odd pair. Matt Bomer was yet another surprise, although I think his portrayal of a cartoonish villain didn’t do him any justice and left much to be desired, as did that slapstick comedy action sequence towards the end. The almost 2-hour run time was way too long for a movie with no significant plot line. The real saving grace, as far as I’m concerned, was young Angourie Rice, who was genuinely funny and gorgeous (fun fact: Angourie is a homophone for the greek word for cucumber, which means the actress’ name is what basically amounts to 2/3 of a sushi roll).


No Escape

no-escape

Not the 90’s Ray Liotta film, but the 2015 one starring Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan, which was suggested to me by the lovely mjennings.

As advertized, the movie is non-stop action and gripping suspense that doesn’t let up. Like The Nice Guys, the cast is a bit mis-matched, but somehow it actually works. For one thing, it’s refreshing to see Owen Wilson in a non-comedic role for a change; for another, Pierce Brosnan playing a disheveled “tourist” secretly working for the government was a funny nod to his James Bond persona – and the character of Hammond was probably the coolest one in the movie, although I was also quite partial his hilarious “Kenny Rogers” sidekick.

The plot is simple yet completely effective in setting up the violence and mayhem surrounding the Dwyer family’s efforts to escape the unnamed placed they just arrived at where all hell breaks loose: Jack uproots his family to work in a third-world south-east Asian country as an engineer for the waterworks system, manufactured by a western company which, as we later learn, has less-than-noble intentions for the area. Before he has the chance to even settle in, a coup breaks out and the city is overrun with rebels executing foreigners. Being the company’s posterboy, Jack is pretty high up on the rebels’ list, and spends the entire length of the movie going through hell to get his family to safety.

There’s not much more to say without spoiling the movie, except it’s an unrelenting, edge-of-your-seat-type-thriller that keeps your steadily rooting for the good guys. Sure, there are a number of goofs and errors and some pretty obvious plot holes, but they’re pretty much forgiven because you don’t really have the time to dwell on them.

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