Last night, Crime HQ and some friends from our sister site, Heroes and Heartbreakers got a chance to see Gangster Squad a few days ahead of schedule! Going in, knowing a little about the background after having read the articles that initiated the book and movie, I felt I knew enough to be comfortable with the story without distracting from the supremely talented cast.
With that being said, don't go in thinking this is going to be L.A. Confidential. While the trailers have echoed the tone of that famous gangster flick, the movie itself is different. The movie opens with Sean Penn as the intimidating and dictatorial Mickey Cohen ripping a rival gangster from Chicago apart while he's tied to two cars. Oh yeah, and a few minutes later, a man's hand is severed in an elevator shaft. However, for those who are hoping for the violence to continue, a la other gangster flicks, don't hold your breath. While violence is woven into almost the film's every fiber, it's isn't quite as gory as I expected after those first few scenes (although according to a few movie-goers walking behind me, it was too gory for their tastes). Let's just say, the first few minutes are not indicative of the entire film.
The violence isn't the only thing that keeps this movie at a high pace (though it helps), there's an impeccable cast and a beautiful backdrop of 1940s L.A.
Some reviews have come out bashing this movie—no the dialogue isn't very good (though I like the 1940s lingo that's slipped in), the stunts, while amazing aren't very realistic. The secret to this movie is to walk in with open eyes, an open mind and try and enjoy it as a great “shoot-'em-up” movie set to the romantic and dangerous backdrop of 1940s and '50s Los Angeles.
The cast absolutely cannot be ignored in this movie. For all the film's potential faults, the cast made up for it. Sean Penn was phenomenal—not as intimidating as he can be, but plays a not-always-super-sharp thug very well! His Mickey Cohen was quietly dangerous, but the real star was Josh Brolin as the leader of the Gangster Squad, John O'Mara. He's a World War II vet, who was deeply scarred by his experience, but has returned with a need to make his home safe once more.
The other bright star in this movie: Ryan Gosling's Jerry Wooters. His high-pitched voice and swaggering attitude hit all the right notes as he plays gangster killer and lady's man. His chemistry with Emma Stone is off the charts, and the humor he adds to the film is a much-needed foil to the violence and darkness otherwise found in action movies.
So will you go see the movie? What are your thoughts?
Also, check out our Pinterest Gangster Squad Sweepstakes for a chance to win 1 of 5 Gangster Squad movie posters!
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwestern transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time watching crime shows and reading romance novels. Follow her other adventures on Twitter.