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The Nice Guys

These detectives might not know what they’re doing, but it’s fun to watch

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are investigating the disappearance of a porn star. <<© Warner Bros. Pictures>>

P.I. Holland March (Ryan Gosling: The Big Short) is hired to investigate a porn star’s car crash. It’s hardly the crime of the century, but he hasn’t turned down a check yet. His only lead is Amelia (Margaret Qualley: The Leftovers), a young woman involved in Los Angeles’ protest scene and possibly the adult film industry.
    Amelia doesn’t want to be found. She hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe: Fathers and Daughters) to persuade Holland to drop the case. Jackson, a bruiser, breaks Holland’s arm.
    Jackson then has his own run-in with thugs seeking Amelia. He ditches the thugs but can’t find the woman. His only option is to ask Holland to help in the search.
    Can Jackson and Holland get over their bad start? How many people will they kill in their search?
    Shane Black, who also directs, has written some of the best hard-R action films of the last 30 years, including Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. His style is foul-mouthed, funny and brutal, so be prepared for blue language and red gore. Black’s biggest talent, however, is mixing wonderful comedic performances into a story that should be serious.
    People die, frequently. Bodies fall out of windows, hemorrhage around gunshot wounds and are mangled in other creative ways. It shouldn’t be funny, but it is, as Black creates a Looney Tunes universe where violence is extreme but consequences fairly light. It’s a brilliant way to play with several genres at once.
    As the mismatched duo who must work together or perish, Crowe and Gosling seem to be having the time of their lives. Both dramatic actors show flare for comedy. As a man in far over his head, Gosling verges on hysteria. Watching him try to wriggle out of dangerous situations is a delight.
    Jackson is a sort of parody of the tough guys Crowe’s known for playing. Jackson, who will beat you to a bloody pulp, is also a natural investigator. He has brains, and this is his chance to use them. Crowe is a fantastic straight man to Gosling’s histrionic Holland, and the duo work best when sharing the screen.
    If you love a good detective yarn, slapstick comedy and bloody shootouts, this well-made piece of absurdist fun is for you. If you’re only a fan of a few of those things, the film is still worth a look.

Great Action Comedy • R • 116 mins.