Directed by Shane Black
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe and Angourie Rice
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
The Nice Guys is a comical, energetic and entertaining film driven primarily by Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe’s performances.
Gosling and Crowe portray private detectives in 1970’s Los Angeles, in a story involving corruption in the justice system and the pornography industry. Gosling plays the role of Holland March, a private detective with a questionable set of both morals and work ethic. Crowe’s character Jackson Healy is more of a paid enforcer than a private detective. Upon teaming up with Holland, Jackson is shown to be the more intelligent and ethically sound of the pair.
Whilst Gosling and Crowe’s performances stand out in this film, Angourie Rice’s portrayal of Holland’s daughter Holly is also fantastic. Throughout the investigation Holly teams up with Holland and Jackson, often without their permission. She helps them find pivotal clues and pushes them to get the best out of themselves.
The 1970’s setting is vibrant and authentic, making it a major reason this film so entertaining. The consume design as well as the use of both vintage cars and home décor make for a charming visual experience. However, what really sets the 1970’s tone is the soundtrack. Groups such as the Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire, Kiss and Kool and the Gang feature in a number of brilliant, and at times hilarious, scenes. These include the infiltration of a party hosted by members of the pornography industry, and important meetings discussing the investigation whilst surrounded by children in a bowling alley.
What lets this film down is the story, particularly the investigation around which the film is centred. At times the plot is unclear and messy. The investigation took too many turns both in terms of what was being investigated and investigative approach. The elements of mystery became elements of confusion. This made it quite difficult to invest in the story. Thankfully, the opposite can be said for the likeable protagonists. Their wisecracks and questionably innovative methods keep you happy to endure the bland investigation. At times Holland and Jackson’s crippling pasts illustrate an attempt to incorporate darker themes dealing with loss and suffering, but are not explored enough to make this film anything more than an action-comedy. Having said this, it does give these characters another level of depth to a certain extent. Holland and Jackson’s characterisation was a joy to witness and ensured the film was an overall enjoyable experience.
Whilst the investigation is bland the film is not. Gosling, Crowe and Rice’s performances and the depiction of 1970’s Los Angeles create an exuberant spectacle. These aspects of the film keep it fast-paced and entertaining. The ending alludes to a potential sequel, and should that be the case I will happily see more of this whacky trio.