Review: The Nice Guys (2016 movie)

When I first saw Russell Crowe’s character here I thought I was looking at John Goodman, not that I’m one to scold anybody about weight gain.

Anyway, we’re in 1970s Los Angeles, and Crowe earns a living beating up people who need beating up. A frightened young women (Margaret Qualley) hires him because she’s being stalked by some mysterious guys and she wants Crowe to make them stop. One of them is Ryan Gosling, but when Crowe pays him a visit and knocks him around a little he learns that Gosling is a private eye who only wants to interview Qualley in connection with a case he’s working. Crowe easily persuades him to lay off.

But the other stalkers are another matter, far more dangerous thugs in the employ of parties unknown. When Qualley goes missing, Crowe decides to hire Gosling to help find her. By the time they do, they’ve stumbled into a conspiracy involving environmental activists, the 1970s porn industry, and government and corporate corruption.

Gil Gerard (star of the 1980s Buck Rogers television series) is almost unrecognizable in a small part as a business executive, but Kim Basinger, who plays Qualley’s estranged mother, has aged much better. Angourie Rice is very good as Gosling’s young but resourceful daughter.

This is a mostly entertaining mix of action, mystery, and dark comedy, and while a few things bothered or annoyed me (Crowe and Gosling are implausibly stupid at one point, and there are several supposed jokes involving innocent people being accidentally shot), on the whole I enjoyed it, especially for the interesting and (mostly) likable characters.

The film was directed and cowritten (with Anthony Bagarozzi) by Shane Black, best known for writing Lethal Weapon and for writing and directing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3.


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