“No Ma’am… I was just hoping to take you to bed”
Have you ever played LA Noire? Have you ever thought, it’d be great if they made like a proper good film that felt exactly like this game? Well if you had then this is your dream. Gangster Squad is simply irresistible combining mobster violence, cool suave characters and sheer action entertainment it offers so much to any audience. Worried this might be one of those films where the trailer makes it look amazing I had to hold my breath and hope that this wouldn’t let down my expectations… the best thing about it? It didn’t let down at all.
From the off we are introduced to Mickey Cohen played by Sean Penn who is simply fantastic and I would go as far as saying makes the whole film what it really is. He is a proper bad guy. A right shit. His intentions are bad and he really does fulfil the role and makes everything that happens feel worth while. The set up from the start was one that made him the kingpin and don of the Jewish Mafia just like you imagine his real-life counter-part. The amazing thing is they manage to make him so watchable, when he is on screen you know shit is about to get real or hit the fan or a combination of both and the scripting is clever in really characterising the danger that surrounds him as a character.
Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling offer up the male leads to the film and are in charge of tearing Cohen’s empire from beneath him so no other mobster would think of taking LA and they both nail their parts, the accents are thick and the suave that Gosling offers is just endearing. I mean, we all know he is good looking, but the way he ponces round this film, smoking cigarettes and glamourising the whole era of crime and badassery is unreal. He really takes it to another level, he does action really well, as does Brolin but with a much more hard-faced and brutal approach. The final scene where Brolin and Penn face-off is brutal to an extreme as the whole film was and with each punch landed on one another we see real damage being done rather than your usual hollywood action stuff.
My other favourite part was also near the end, because of the sheer cinematic effect it had the showdown in the lobby between Brolin and Cohen’s goons and eventually the gunfight between Cohen and Brolin was stunning to watch. The slow motion capturing the era’s weaponry and feel beautifully and really showing the harsh reality and power of these weapons as the bullets rip through the sparkling christmas tree.
Emma Stone didn’t feature as predominantly as I had expected but played her part well as the sassy Grace, she also suits the era of glamour and crime and is reunited with her Crazy Stupid Love co-star Gosling. Their on-screen relationship isn’t as enchanting as perhaps it was in Crazy Stupid Love but the main focus of the story here wasn’t their relationship but taking Mickey Cohen down. She played her part in his downfall which I liked and as one of the only female characters in the film doesn’t need help to stand out as she struts around the sets in gorgeous flowing dresses that just make you want to see more of her character in the story. Again, none of this hollywood ‘just cos I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t fire a gun’ crap, just straight forward classic stuff which is refreshing. Her place is for glamour not for action.
The film does have a couple of slow moments and I find the Mexican character to be a bit of a dud and almost there just to clarify moments in the plot for the audience like the kind of guy who just says ‘what does that mean’ when terms are used that the public would not maybe get. The thing is the film is so impressive and the noir style is so well done that it just feels right and that’s what you want from a film like this. Authenticity is key and the good moments in this film become great because of that. Josh Brolin beating the living daylights out of a group of Cohen’s henchmen ready to rape a girl at the start simply defined his character of taking no nonsense and the slight cliche of ‘not playing by the rules but getting results’.
I think you have to like the era and understand the themes to enjoy this film completely but if only for Sean Penn’s performance I would highly suggest seeing it, he’s evil but oozes the slimey class you’d want from the sort of character.