First Hit: A dark comedy with some very funny bits and a fair amount of violence.
There are definitely some laugh-out-loud moments in this film. The juxtaposition between the personalities of the main characters made it work.
Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) a guy who uses his fists to set things right. He's hired by all sorts of people who want someone to leave them alone. He’s ruff, gruff and no-nonsense in his approach. He hits people and asks questions later.
On the other side of the coin we have Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a former police officer and currently a private detective who tries to take the easy way out most of the time. He gets is PI fees up-front and is not always fair to, or honest with, his clients.
He feels guilty because he lost his wife and house to a fire that he might have prevented had he been able to smell. March has taken to drinking most of the time and, although he has a great relationship with his young daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), he's not being a great example as a father.
Holly has become the strength of their home and most of the time she’s really taking care of him. Some of the funny bits are slapstick falls that March takes along with the physical and conversational interaction between Healy and March.
There are also fond remembrances of comics past, including Gosling’s version of Lou Costello’s attempts at calling for help with nothing coming out of his mouth because he’s in state of paralysis/shock because he finds himself lying next to a dead man. There are laugh out loud scenes (many at the big party) as well as a convoluted crime story they are attempting to resolve.
Crowe is perfect as the no-nonsense physical enforcer of right and wrong, according to him. Gosling was very strong as the confused, in mourning, and trying to find how to get of of his funk father. His ability to be both smart and not-smart in this character and make it work is wonderful. Rice was the star of the film. Her maturity while being able to be a young teenager with a conscious was stunning. We will see much more of her as she develops as an actress. There a number of other character actors in this film that were very strong including: Margaret Qualley (as Amelia), Beau Knapp (as Blueface) and Lance Valentine Butler (as Kid on Bike). Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi wrote an dynamically funny and engaging script. While Black’s direction was strong in bringing out the dynamics of the main three’s relationship.
Overall: I enjoyed the story and the dark humor.