What a lark this film. Seriously, the buddy cop dynamic is on fire with these two at the wheel of the ship. It may be a film, that at times feels a bit long in getting to the point of the story and it goes annoyingly for broke with making funny but the pairing of Crowe and Gosling injects plenty of enjoyment into it.
After a porn star dies in a car crash, private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) gets a case to find the dead star as her aunt believes she’s still alive, however it all points to Amelia (Margaret Qualley). Brutish hard-man Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is hired to scare March off Amelia’s scent but soon they’re both in it together as they uncover a dangerous set of connections.
Shane Black gives this vivid 70’s set cop comedy his usual stamp of buddy laughs, action fight scenes and of course there’s a Christmas moment in there too. He directs with enough flair that the sense of this era more than comes alive, every scene is colourful and loud as the pair try working out the mystery of Misty Mountains. The film certainly has energy if nothing else, the seriousness and interest of the case might get lost more than once as the screenplay gives more time in the silliness of March/Healy’s antics but visually the movie screams classic buddy crime genre.
It’s not like the screenplay by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi is lacking of the drama as there is scope for back-story with both leads and you engage with most characters, especially the cool smarts of March’s daughter Holly. I only feel that at times the screenplay isn’t present as Crowe and Gosling improv their way out of a paper bag to create comedy, which leads us on a winding road away from the central point of the story, therefore it seems to take forever to get to core moments of the crime actually getting tracked.
Comedy wise, this is a film that made me laugh…out loud, more than once, but when the entire movie is throwing it’s whole weight at jokes then it’s not much of a surprise. It’s as if they flung joke after joke at a target board hoping that some would stick and yes a lot do but some obviously fall short and make you realise how hard they’re trying to be funny. That’s not a big problem, it just detracts from the crime drama that takes a back-seat to the crazy chemistry between the two lead actors.
Russell Crowe brings his usual assured gruff nature to the role of Jackson Healy, but he displays a credible amount of comic timing and bounces off Gosling very well. Ryan Gosling himself is brilliant with his physical comedy, from rolling down hills, keeping a toilet door open and shaking in an elevator he triumphs as the star of comedy in this film. Angourie Rice, as mentioned is very cool as Holly. Margaret Qualley is a fireball of anti-fascist rage, her agenda hurtled in excellent fast paced delivery. Matt Bomer brings an electric cold feel to the latter part of the film as a stone faced killer.
This is a very over the top film with a lot of laughs and heck, for a film featuring death, crime and conspiracy it’s full of joy. It has a simmering of try hard but Black and a fantastic turn from Gosling make this an enjoyable absurd romp.