Set against the backdrop of 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys opens when single father and licensed PI Holland March (Gosling) is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of famous porn star Misty Mountains. As the trail leads him to track down a girl named Amelia (Qualley), he encounters less licensed and less hands-off private eye Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe) and his brass knuckles, both hired by the young hippie. However, the situation takes a turn for the worse when Amelia vanishes and it becomes apparent that March wasn’t the only party interested. As both men are forced to team up, they’ll have to take on a world filled with eccentric goons, strippers dressed as mermaids and even a possible government conspiracy.
Shane Black, the father of Buddy cop movies, returns to write and direct this 1970’s action/comedy about private eyes. It has everything you would come to expect from the writer of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Chemistry between the two leads, dialogue of them bickering, a small case that leads to something much bigger and a insane amount of action make our heroes seem invincible (a trope that is actually acknowledged by one of the leads.) The underlying plot line, told in a totally off-the-wall and occasionally hard to follow and disjointed fashion, is very 70’s in nature and deserving of the critical attention this film is receiving.
| March: Look on the bright side. Nobody got hurt.
| Healy: People got hurt.
| March: I’m saying, I think they died quickly. So I don’t think they got hurt.
With dynamic timing and uproarious gestures, Gosling mines his diverse abilities and becomes a blast in The Nice Guys. Together with Russell Crowe they play their roles out with such a great chemistry, that you can’t help yourself but root for them through their stupidity, which is an art of itself in this movie. Crowe’s dry comedic delivery and raw brutality is perfectly matched with his co-star’s impish charm and damaged determination. A great supporting cast with Beau Knapp, Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer and a breakout performance by young Australian actress Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter, whom felt very mature and talented for her age. The young miss Rice is someone we should be on the lookout for, I am sure we will be seeing more of her in the near future. She kicked ass.
The only negative I can get out of this movie is the way it ended. Without spoiling it, the ending leaves you hanging a bit. An ending that felt like solicitation to the studio for it to be a franchise. Which is fine, I would love to see these two characters back, but it’s just felt a little bit cheap. But despite that, The Nice Guys is an absolute joy every step of the way. Black has a knack for turning action movie expectations on their head mixed with improvised comedy and rich dialogue. The 70’s private investigator feel of the film was also very enjoyable to me and captured the time perfectly.
As a big fan of ‘Lethal Weapon’ & ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, Shane Black captures the same fun and tone in The Nice Guys in a not so different type of setting (despite the time period) that is Los Angeles. The plot is smart and twisty, hearkening back to the classic private detective stories; original and well-written and the jokes are hilarious as expected from a Shane Black movie. Intelligent and fresh and where Black’s direction is strong, featuring stylish and vibrant cinematography and editing.
Overall The Nice Guys is awesome, the lean and clean direction ensures that, the 1 hour and 56 minute movie has a stream of memorable set pieces and quotable nuggets of dialogue, I’ll say that the movie is a must watch. Go have fun. It’s nice, guys (see what I did there……. I walk myself out)
The Nice Guys gets an 8.6/10.