Few and far between do you see a successful writer come out and do well as a director. Sure there are heaps that give it a go, but most fail in a ball of fire when they realize the skill with pad and pen does not translate to the big screen. The beast that is running a film set while trying to tell a cohesive and cinematic story is an incredibly hard thing, with often great scripts being torn apart during the film making process.
Shane Black was one writer that had a stellar career with the keyboard, from the Lethal Weapon anthology, awesome 80’s kid horror The Monster Squad, The Last Boy Scout, and Last Action Hero, not to mention the uncredited work he did on Predator, one of my all-time fave action films. With 10 years of success as an action genre writer from the mid 80’s to mid 90’s, he fell off the radar for the next 10 years till he turned his writing skills back on and this time threw is hat into the mix to direct.
That was the 2005, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which not only brought Shane Black back into the spotlight with a great written and first time directed film, but launched Robert Downey Jr back into the mainstream and turned him into a megastar playing Iron Man. Despite that success, it took Black another 8 years before his next project got off the ground, this time reteaming with Downey in the 2013, Iron Man 3, which went on to be one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Roll around to 2016, and with 11 years between films, only his 3rd film came out, The Nice Guys. This looked very much to have gone back to a similar look and feel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and to his strengths as a writer with his buddy movie preference. With a retro setting of 1977, and involved in the world of porn, crime, private eyes, and of course politicians, mean this fitted perfectly into his other films, though I felt this was a little weaker than most.
With a running time of nearly 2 hours, it felt at least 10-15 minutes too long, and with a few convoluted story points that felt a little on the nose, kind of took away from the film. Overall though it was really good and I would happily watch again, but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is still his best directional effort, but with The Predator his next writing and directing gig, I hope like hell that takes the mantel as my favourite Shane Black film to date, as Predator deserves an awesome film.
8.5 out of 10 from me!!!