The Nice Guys Review
I have always been drawn to neo-noir. I love a good mystery. Especially a vintage mystery circa 1950-1970. There are something about those years that is both alluring and hypnotic. I love old school Los Angeles mysteries, and history of that city alone is worth about a dozen dazzling and self-contained films that I believe would be great in the right hands. In "The Nice Guys," we have a mystery about the disappearance of a young girl, which may or may not be connected to the recent death of a porn star. The mystery takes place in Los Angeles in the year 1977. I am also a huge fan of both Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, you lend us eyes into the world of private eyes and enforcement that tiptoes on the lines of being illegal.
What could go wrong with a movie like this you ask? Well, just about nothing!
Shane Black's "The Nice Guys," is a perfect blend of naughty and nice. Crowe and Gosling, who are clearly having a hell of a ball playing off of one another, throw themselves into their roles. They make the world of 1977 Los Angeles believable and the audience follows them right into the story-line. It feels like a time machine almost, not just in performance of actor but the attention to detail. This feels like a particular moment in history, and I love Black's eye for all details, both major and minor. But again with Crowe and Gosling, they are a dynamic duo in every sense of the phrase. Back in 2005, Black made a similar film to this called "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang," starring Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. Black is the master of the gritty, buddy-comedy crime film. Black does a very good job of finding quality actors and watching them collide with one another. The way he fuses story-line to time period is also superb.
Private eye Holland March (Gosling) accepts a job to find a porn star named Misty Mountains (Murielle Teilo). Mountains dies at the beginning of the movie, but the porn stars grandmother is certain she saw her last week. March accepts the job even though he knows the porn star is dead, because he trying to find a missing girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) who is somehow connected to Misty Mountains. Amelia does not wish to be found and hires Jackson Healy (Crowe) to protect her from anybody who could possibly be looking for her. This sets up March and Healy meeting. The thing is, Healy discovers lots of dangerous people are looking for Amelia and that she maybe in some kind of conspiracy involving the Las Vegas mob, the Los Angeles Department of Justice and a air pollution protest. How do all of these elements connect? That is the mystery of the movie, and Healy and March become fast friends to find out what everything means, and keep Amelia out of danger.
Not only are Gosling and Crowe good, but the entire cast is really great. Matt Bomer shows up as a villain, and its easily one of the best things he's done so far in his career. Kim Basinger shows up as the mother of Amelia who works for the Department of Justice, and she also very good. Qualley is good as Amelia, when we finally meet her. Keith David also has a good villain role. But easily the highlight of the movie is Angourie Rice, who plays Holly, Holland daughter. She is a teenager, not super close to her father, mom isn't in the picture, but she's fascinated by her father's private eye business. She finds herself to be an unlikely alley with her father and Healy. Rice is a great actress and if this movie is any indication, she has a long career ahead of her.
The only complaint I would have for this movie is the pacing. "The Nice Guys" is a two-hour movie and at times it feels like two hour movie pretty much throughout. There are moments where you can definitely feel the minutes go by. Its a little surprising since this is a stylish and fun caper with big laughs and big spurts of action. Sometimes, the movie slows down and I doubt that this was the intention of the film itself.
But minor nitpick aside, you should check this out if you like a good, old-fashioned mystery movie. Go to watch Gosling and Crowe tear it up with each other. Go to see some very funny content and be amazed by the detail of the film. There is quite a bit to like here and I can't wait to see what Shane Black does next.
FINAL GRADE: B+