The location, Los Angeles. The year, 1949. Los Angeles is not the promised land that the world now knows it to be. It's filthy, dirty and without hope. Evil lurks the mean streets and these streets are ruled by one Mickey Cohen.
'Gangster Squad' tells the real-life story of mob boss, Mickey Cohen played by a mean mugging Sean Penn. Sergeant John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) takes on the job of bringing Mickey down with the help of a special squad he puts together. The squad is made up of the smart guy Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), playboy Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), old timer of a detective Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) and the smart-mouthed but tough Detective Coleman Harris played by Anthony Mackie. Emma Stone lends her beauty to the film as Grace Faraday, Mickey's girlfriend and the object of Jerry Wooter's affection.
The cinematography in the film is remarkable for a story that is so simple. One aspect of the film that can be overwhelming is the violence. There are plenty of squeamish moments when Sean Penn is on screen. But when you're not squinting one eye, you'll be admiring the stylish ensembles of the characters. The bold fashions of the 40's immediately pop and Stone's wardrobe is especially stunning.
The squad itself is very lovable with each member having their own quirks and great chemistry as a whole. While the ladies will undoubtedly be drooling over Gosling, they need not over look Mackie's character who is just as smooth and has great one-liners such as:
'I always knew I'd die in Burbank'
Brolin's character is probably the most developed. He is the ultimate hero but has a 'bull in china shop' mentality when he goes about bringing justice. He's driven by the love for his city and his job often clashes with his wife's dream of normalcy. Sadly, there are not enough scenes between Gosling and Stone to show off their wonderful chemistry that we have seen previously in 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'. However, the story is bigger than these two - it's about one group of good men with big punches and a lot of heart taking back Los Angeles from the no-good foreigners (never mind Penn's weird accent).
The credits roll in less than two hours and the audience is back in present time, Los Angeles. Nods of approval are shared between friends and families as they slowly exit the Chinese theater.
The nostalgic look back into the 40's is not over yet as the post-screening party begins at Rolling Stone restaurant and lounge in Hollywood. Drinks are flowing, guests are wearing vintage and tapping their feet to live jazz music. You would think Ryan Gosling was about to walk in with fedora in hand and show the crowd a few moves. Yes, on this particular Tuesday night, Rolling Stone created a 40's themed night for its guests in celebration of the Ruben Fleischer film. And what a success it was!
It is clear that 'Gangster Squad' is a fun film that will make you gasp, laugh and cheer on the good guys. At the very least, it might inspire you and your friends to cut a rug and scat.