How Shane Black went from ‘Lethal’ to ‘Nice’ in only 30 years

This was a long time coming.

I”m not sure how it happens that I never ended up speaking with Shane Black until I visited the set of The Nice Guys, but that”s how it worked out. When Warner told me that Black would be doing interviews for the release of the film, I invited him to the HitFix studio for a longer sit-down conversation, and was thrilled when they scheduled it to happen.

One of the signature lines from Lethal Weapon, the film that put Shane Black on the map as a screenwriter, involves Murtaugh (Danny Glover) wearily opining, “I”m too old for this shit.” It”s become one of the great action movie cliches now, and Black can take all the credit for that. When we sat down, I was curious if he”s reaching that place now himself, and looking at The Nice Guys and watching this conversation a second time, I don”t think we have to worry about Black losing his fastball any time soon. If anything, I think he”s becoming a more Shane Blacky version of Shane Black as time passes. If you trace a line from Lethal Weapon to The Last Boy Scout to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to The Nice Guys, I think you can see a clear evolution of a voice and a style, and I think he”s more in control now than he”s ever been.

Our conversation covered a fair amount of ground, and he seemed to have no problem discussing anything I brought up. That”s good if you”re curious about his upcoming reboot of The Predator or his Doc Savage movie. He seems to have realistic expectations for The Nice Guys, but I hope you guys make it a bigger hit than he believes it will be. I would love to see him put Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling together again for another case, and I think he”s more than proven that he has this kind of material down cold. He was born to make this type of film, and considering how few people even try, we should be celebrating the fact that we”ve got someone who is so naturally gifted at it. I love Los Angeles detective stories, especially ones set in another era, and Black understands exactly why that”s such a valuable story type.

Don”t support something diluted and thinned out like that awful-looking Lethal Weapon television series coming in the fall. Instead, go right to the tap and support the guy whose voice has been setting the standard for tough guy wise-assery for thirty years now.

The Nice Guys is in theaters on Friday.