I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about Mickey Cohen or the 1940s’ LA gang scene. I will also admit to being totally fascinated with Hollywood in the 1940s solely based on the “glamour” of the era. Even the gangs were glamourous. They wore zoot suits, for crying out loud, and they hung out at clubs called Slapsy Maxie’s. What’s not to love? (besides the violence and corruption)
Directed by Rueben Fleischer (Zombieland), and written by Will Beall (“Castle”), Gangster Squad is a solid film. The movie is based on Paul Lieberman’s novel of the same name, and while I do not know how much of it is actually true, I don’t really care. Obviously it is glamourized just like the era it takes place in (I think?). And what with the interwebs these days, I’m sure it’s easy enough to just Google, but it’s really not necessary to enjoy the movie. Parts were predictable, but not eye-roll worthy. Parts were funny, peppered lightly around the violence to give good flow and keep things light. Nothing was cheesy. Nothing was Tarantino violent (save one scene but it’s over quickly).
The tone was human, knowwhatimean? Probably not because I just made that up. Let me be more confusing: it was serious, without taking itself too seriously, but with taking itself for what it is. It’s not unlike Public Enemies (Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion HOTillard), but it is unlike it. Both are very entertaining war-era gangster movies, but made very differently. The expectation you built in your mind based on the trailers is exactly what you will get; G-Squad is a GOOD movie. Nothing more and yet no less.
-The clothes, the speech, the cars, the music (soundtrack is beautiful); they got the era.
-The cast. Everyone was fantastic. Josh Brolin delivered the kickassery. Ryan Gosling was his charming, handsome self but with a different voice. Anthony Mackie doesn’t get enough screen time. Emma Stone is divine. God she makes me wish I was a smoker. But not. But I get how easy it was for people to take up smoking back then. SO CLASSY & SEXY. Mireille Enos as Brolin’s wife is just adorable and devout and not annoying. Robert Patrick & Giovanni Ribisi were delightfully awesome. And of course Sean Penn is creepy and sinister as hell (and he was good in the movie too, HIYO!).
-The weird instagram-esque filter they used that was totally there but also not. Brolin, you’re an attractive man. When you reach 50 I’ll gladly add you to my “Hot Men in their 50s” list, but I know you got more lines on your face. Was the filter for everyone’s skin or to add glamour? I don’t know, but I liked it.
-Gun fights!!! Ok I know it is a sensitive issue right now. I mean absolutely no disrespect. But THIS is where guns belong: in a heavily stylized movie about the 1940s’ gangster scene. Got that, kids?
Didn’t work so much:
-The very beginning, and the very end. The voice over/narrative if you will. It really didn’t need to happen. This movie did not need to be told in Brolin/Sgt O’Meara’s point of view. Especially because he does a general, 2 minute voice over at the beginning of the movie, and then the rest of the movie is just a third person POV, until the end when you get a jarring voice over again. Sure, show O’Meara’s home life, that’s all fine and dandy. I know there needs to be a central character and O’Meara fits the bill, but the voice over wasn’t remotely necessary and sort of distracting. If throughout the movie they wanted to go for a classic beat era voice over where O’Meara just narrates everything that’s happening, that might have actually worked. But they didn’t, and I just felt distanced at the end. “Oh… ya, I guess it was about O’Meara? No it’s not.”
-Nothing was wrong plot-wise. Just a tad predictable. I don’t know if that’s because 1) I’ve seen too many movies, 2) it’s based on a true story & truth is boring which is why we have fiction, or 3) lazy writing to keep audience happy.
General thoughts, like my actual thoughts while watching the movie:
-this car chase would actually be pretty slow
-HOW IS NO ONE GETTING SHOT
-it’s like Grand Theft Auto, minus the cars being stolen
-why is it taking them so long to find their hideout? oh right, no internet. what a dark time. how did they do anything?
-like seriously, dayuuum Gosling.
-was that Anthony Mackie as Jackie Robinson in the preview before this movie? (it wasn’t, I looked it up after the movie. I’m just racist.)
-ya, no, you’d be dead.
-“don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” unless you’re Anthony Mackie.
-HOW DID THEY FIND HIM WITHOUT GOOGLE?
-god it’s a good thing cell phones didn’t exist. JUST SKIP TOWN, IDIOTS. by the time anyone knows you’re gone, it’s like 4 days later.
Good movie. Not amazing. Not award winning, except maybe in sound editing/mixing. Not bad. I’d definitely recommend seeing it in a theatre because it’s fun & exciting. Also because the 40s were the Golden Age of cinema so it’s fitting to see it in one.
ps. DAAAYYYUUUUUMMMM GOSLING.
pps. Here’s a clip of comedian John Mulaney (SNL writer) doing a bit about gangsters that I had running through my head during the entire movie. Legit. All movie. Just go to 11:55-end.