Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a thug, getting paid to beat people up, whose dream is to be a private investigator. One client pays him to visit Holland March (Ryan Gosling). March is a private investigator working on a case. March’s case involves finding a missing woman, Amelia (Margaret Qualley).
As March digs deeper into the case, the situation becomes more complicated and the stakes get higher. As he is searching for Amelia, he finds his life, and that of his daughter (Angourie Rice), in danger. Healy, finding himself in the same predicament, teams up with March to help him solve the case and save their lives.
Russell Crowe plays the straight man to Ryan Gosling’s sometimes too ridiculous March better than expected. He keeps the story grounded when March goes a little too overboard, usually thanks to copious amounts of alcohol. Gosling, for his part, does mostly well in the role. Angourie Rice is a pleasant surprise as the daughter to Gosling’s alcoholic father. She further grounds March as she tags along to help with the case, unbeknownst to her dad.
The Nice Guys is a fresh, original take on buddy cop movies. Think Inherent Vice without the pretentiousness and confusing story line. However, as mentioned above, they take things a little far at times. Gosling turns into a caricature trying to push marginally funny scenes into something more. There are miraculous coincidences that move the story along unrealistically. I would say these are forgivable missteps, but they really take you out of the moment when they happen.
The story is a bit out there, involving porn stars, assassins, conspiracies, and air pollution. While this sounds like a bizarre combination, they find a way to make it work. The story is nicely spliced with plenty of action and quips. It has a dark, gritty feel that fits well with the late 1970s timeline it’s set in. All of this results in a well produced film.
Not without its faults, The Nice Guys is an entertaining break from the other films that are being released. Coming in at just under 2 hours, it never feels slow. The story moves along at a decent pace, keeping things going without rushing through too much. If you can get past the “Oh, come on” moments, it is a pretty good movie. You catch this one in the theater, but you won’t be kicking yourself if you wait for the Redbox.