Movie Review - The Nice Guys

Director and co-writer Shane Black does these buddy-cop movies where two unlikely characters, typically male, team up to solve some crime, usually a murder. There's always wise-cracking machismo all over the place. It's appropriate that Black sets this film in 1977 because the kind of machismo he wields would really only fly 40 years ago. Black also dumps a very heavy-handed message about Detroit and the automobile industry in regards to pollution and public safety. In his attempts to be lurid and prurient, he includes this pornography angle, which only ends up being extremely stupid. This is part of Black's over-arching joke, but the antics here aren't as clever as he thinks.

Russell Crowe (Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind) stars as Jackson Healy, a bruiser, a thug for hire. People pay him to beat up people. We're supposed to be endeared to him because he beats up the older guy dating the underage girl. Instead of blackmailing him or threatening legal action, Jackson just walks up to his front door and punches the guy, a sucker punch, which is the kind of old-school machismo that's only acceptable decades ago.

Ryan Gosling (The Notebook and Crazy, Stupid, Love) stars as Holland March, a private detective who seems to have a drinking problem and takes really petty cases. He has a pre-teen daughter who acts more like a parent than he does. He comes across as a bit of a schlub and a bit bumbling, but he's actually a good detective who knows Los Angeles and knows how to find things out. Yet, he's not the aggressor that Jackson is.

The plot revolves around a missing girl in a porn film. This could have been an interesting premise, but, by the end it all just seems ridiculous. The stakes are way over-the-top. All this murder and mayhem for something so absurd just is imbalanced.

For example, Matt Bomer plays this insane assassin who goes way over-the-top and unnecessarily. His actions only make sense if he were in a cartoon. He just takes out a machine gun and starts shooting up the place, if only because Black thought he needed an action sequence. The first major action sequence in the Hollywood hills is fine and includes some funny moments, but every subsequent action sequence really feel superfluous.

There's also this aspect where by the end Holland's daughter, Holly, played by Angourie Riece, who tags along for the adventure has to talk Jackson from killing Bomer's character. This aspect isn't developed as well as it could have been. It seems like Holly is trying to save Jackson's soul or something but I never got why she cared so much or at all about Jackson.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 55 mins.

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