Shane Black has had an interesting and very unique career in Hollywood, from his beginnings as the first actor to be killed onscreen by the Predator, to his highly influential early screenwriting work for the likes of Lethal Weapon, the lesser-known The Monster Squad and the underrated Lethal Weapon 2, to his more recent directorial efforts with the undeserved flop Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the global mega-hit Iron Man 3. He’s a writer who has consistently managed to approach normally dull genre movies with a fresh lick of paint, and a director with a decent track record of handling his own scripts. So while it’s disappointing that his latest film failed to really take flight at the box office, it’s also hardly surprising that it’s far more thoughtful and witty a piece than its rather uninspired marketing managed to suggest.

Trading off a similar buddy dynamic seen in his Lethal Weapon work, this is his first period film – a 1970s-set private detective mystery with a very relaxed comedic tone, not dissimilar to something like The Big Lebowski only with considerably less marijuana smoke. Not a lot happens plot-wise, but there’s considerable┬ámileage in watching two fine lead actors relish Black’s traditionally snappy dialogue, and Ryan Gosling in particular shows some deft comic timing to add to his already impressive range. This kind of film was ten-a-penny once upon a time, but is now something of a dying genre – which may explain its box office struggles. It’s rather strange and quite welcome to see something that was once stale stand out so much in a market saturated with sequels and adaptations.

Another witty and knowing Shane Black screenplay8
Another example of why Shane Black should get more work as a director8
A pretty straightforward and formulaic buddy comedy-drama6
One of the better examples of that particular type of film7
Strangely quite refreshing to see this kind of movie being made nowadays8
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel test failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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