Shane Black, director of the classic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the very good Iron Man 3 returns to film noir with The Nice Guys, a grimy detective story starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.
The movie is good. Just good. It’s often so good, it’s painful to witness the moments that don’t work.
Crowe plays Jackson Healy, an L.A. loser who takes punching requests from people. Folks pay him to rough up child molesters, for the most part. He gets an assignment from Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who wants him to pay a visit to private detective Holland March (Gosling)—a visit that turns out to be hilariously infused with comic violence.
Holland and Jackson wind up working on a case together, one that involves Amelia, a dead porn star, and a gun for hire named John Boy (Matt Bomer, relishing the chance to be super nasty).
When Gosling and Crowe are allowed to go off, the movie purrs on all cylinders. It’s when Black’s script (co-written with Anthony Bagarozzi) leads to a conspiracy involving Amelia’s mother, played by Kim Basinger, that it stalls out. That’s mainly because Basinger is tone-deaf in this film. She doesn’t seem to know what kind of movie she is in, and her line delivery is woefully over-the-top. In short, she’s blazingly terrible in her every scene.
The film gets by thanks to the pairing of Gosling and Crowe, who work very well together. They are like a modern day Abbott & Costello