The Nice Guys feels like one of those films that the industry doesn’t make anymore, in which a talented director is given the extent of the studio’s resources to create a character vehicle. Writer and director Shane Black uses the ’70s setting to create a throwback buddy adventure that benefits from the excellent chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe, and goes all of in Black’s stylistic elements. While some may criticize the formulaic nature of the buddy cop film, it’s easy to forget that Black originated many of those formulas, and with The Nice Guys he’s able to subvert as many cliches as possible.
Set in 1977, Los Angeles, The Nice Guys follows Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a shady private investigator who through strange circumstances ends up at the mercy of Jackson Healy (Russel Crowe), a ruthless justice advocate. When the two realize there after the same target, a missing actress named Emilia (Margaret Qualley), the two private eyes unite to uncover the conspiracy. The mismatches personalities are what makes the film so unique, with Gosling going for his most ridiculous comedic performance to date, and Crowe palying off the brooding and aggressive personality of which he commonly plays.
The film features a brilliant mixture of coemdy, from absurdist action, character banter, and witty callbacks. As with many of Black’s films, the plot is almost intentionally all over the place, but with film it fits the zaniness of the story. The Nice Guys is a wholly original, entertaining adventure that makes for one of the more unique film of the year. Grade: A