My opinion of Russell Crowe has dwindled over the last 10 or so years. His career started with a bang, with Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind but recently he’s been putting out movies like The Man With the Iron Fists and Noah. Even his performance in Les Miserables was the lowpoint of that movie (for me, anyways). Can he redeem himself here?
We’ve got two guys. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a thug who is hired to beat up people for money. He’s hired to stop this guy from harassing a girl named Amelia. Turns out the guy doing the harassing is a Private Investigator named Holland March (Ryan Gosling). When they cross paths, they start to realize that something bigger than they imagined is going on and it all centers around this girl Amelia. We’ve also got Holland’s daughter Holly (relative newcomer Angourie Rice), Amelia’s mother (Kim Basinger), and some dangerous killers sent to take out our nice guys (Keith David, Beau Knapp, and Matt Bomer). The movie is directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and takes place in a 1970s Los Angeles.
The setting for this movie is the first thing to jump out at you. 1970s Los Angeles seeps through the screen and it’s absolutely convincing. The cars, the city, the outfits, everything looks convincing. Even the music was perfect, absolutely taking you back to that time.
And once we’re there, both Crowe and Gosling seal the deal. They both deliver some of the best comedic performances of their lives. They have incredible chemistry together, with Crowe playing the more serious of the two. Gosling delivered a fine performance in The Big Short but this movie really convinced me that he can knock it out of the park with comedies. We also have a stellar new addition of the young actress Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter. She is the heart of the film but also delivers some great comedic moments as well.
This movie is perfect if you want something just kind of fun. It watches like an 80s action movie (which makes sense, since director Shane Black wrote all the Lethal Weapon movies), so it’s got some chase scenes, some witty one-liners, and a few good shootouts. The mystery is engaging and interesting but the focus is really on our two heroes (though “hero” is used loosely).
The problem with movies that walk the line between genres is that it’s easy to not really be stellar at any of them and unfortunately The Nice Guys kind of struggles with that. It’s an action movie but the action moments aren’t that memorable. It’s a mystery but the story isn’t that intriguing. Above all else, it’s a comedy. If you had to put a genre to it, I’d say comedy. But people expecting an abundance of action and mystery might be a tad disappointed (one guy behind me in the theater even fell asleep).
I really liked The Nice Guys. It’s not a spectacular movie, as you might be disappointed by the lack of some aspects, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable. The setting is great and the performances from Crowe, Gosling, and Rice leap off the screen. I don’t know if I’d recommend that you need to see it in the theater, but it’ll be a great time if you rent it or catch it online.