A private investigator and enforcer reluctantly team up to locate a missing woman in The Nice Guys. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a private investigator in 1977 Los Angeles, who is currently looking for a missing girl named Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley). However, Amelia doesn’t want to be found and hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to tell Holland to stop the search, breaking his arm in the process. However, when Healy himself is attacked by thugs looking for Amelia, he decides to hire Holland to try and unravel why she went missing in the first place.
For his third directorial feature, Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) heads to 1970s Los Angeles for a buddy detective comedy, featuring two unlikely partners looking for a missing woman. With Holland’s teenage daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) tagging along, much to the annoyance of her father, the two partners unravel a rather twisted plot with Amelia right at the center of it.
Shane Black has developed a reputation for himself in the action genre over the last 30 year, writing the screenplays for films such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Black made his directorial debut a little over a decade ago with his 2005 detective comedy Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and was also behind the camera for Iron Man Three in 2013. The Nice Guys is an action-comedy that hearkens back in the buddy films of the 1970s. Jackson Healy is the prototypical tough guy, who doesn’t think twice about snapping a guy’s arm in two. Holland March, on the other hand, is a sleazeball private investigator, who often takes cases involving the adult entertainment industry and is much more competent at drinking than solving cases.
The tone of The Nice Guys is set in the opening scene, where a popular porn star dies in a car crash and is seen sprawled naked across the road. Not only does this scene set the plot in motion, since it is later revealed that Amelia had connections with said star, but it also establishes the film’s mix of violence and dark humour. Much of the comedy in The Nice Guys comes from Ryan Gosling’s bumbling performance as Holland March, with Russell Crowe playing things relatively straight, even though he seems to be having fun with the type of tough guy roles that he has played in the past.
While The Nice Guys is a thoroughly entertaining film, it doesn’t quite reach the same highs as Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Possibly it is because the film is missing someone with the charisma of Robert Downey Jr, even though Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling do quite fine in their roles. The Nice Guys is not a film that I would rank on my list of my favourite action-comedies, however it still made for a fun day at the movies.