I am a huge Noir / 40s gangster / Crime Action Drama fan. This story takes place in 1940s Los Angeles at a time when the city is falling into the hands of Mickey Cohen; a notorious crime boss. The police chief realizes that Cohen has too strong a hold within the proper channels and recruits a squad of cops who have what it takes to play on Cohen’s level to save their city from corruption. The story in itself is your typical cops and gangster story, but the way it’s done and the distinct plot points make this movie memorable.
As I have already seen this movie and do solemnly swear not to spoil any major plot points you may click to read what to expect from this movie. I have also posted the trailer after the jump.
- Giovanni Ribisi as Det. Conway Keeler
- Josh Brolin as Sgt. John O’Mara
- Ryan Gosling as Sgt. Jerry Wooters
- Anthony Mackie as Det. Rocky Washington
- Michael Peña as Det. Navidad Ramirez
- Robert Patrick as Det. Max Kennard
- Emma Stone as Grace Faraday
- Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen
I was pleased with the choices made for the primary characters. Sean Penn is an amazing villain and I found myself intimidated by Mickey Cohen. Penn brings a scary intensity to the character that was important for this movie to be successful and stand out against the other gangster movies of the last decade. Josh Brolin was equally strong in his performance and managed to both intimidate and inspire. These actors were able to hold their own in such a strong cast.
You know how in gangster flicks there is always one that talks in a falsetto? Well in this movie that character is played by Ryan Gosling. I was worried going into this movie that he was being thrown in for the swoon factor, but I am happy to report that his smooth style and charm really help him embody the character of Sgt. Jerry Wooters; a slick cop whose good sense and bravery add to this squad.
Emma Stone’s quirkiness was absent from her role as Grace Faraday, but her inherent sex appeal was all she really needed to play the love interest of Mickey Cohen. Stone plays Cohen’s etiquette teacher and is counted among his many possessions. As I am sure you know from the trailers, he is not the only man who has his heart stolen by Miss Faraday and the chemistry between Stone and Gosling is just as hot as it was when they starred in Crazy, Stupid, Love.
The rest of the squad is amazing as well. Giovanni Ribisi plays the brains of the group and his sensitivity makes for a great moral component of the story. Anthony Mackie played it tough as nails with his own set of clever quips after doling out some unorthodox justice. The casting for this movie was great, no one actor overshadowed the rest and I believed that these characters actually liked each other and worked well together.
This is a beautiful movie. It may be my bias because I love the 40s style. Especially 40s Los Angeles! You have women in that old Hollywood style of ball gowns and hair done to perfection. Each man has a well fitted suit complete with hat and kerchief. The cars were rolling hunks of steel and could take bullets like tanks. They concentrated on the glamor side of the time and really dressed it up to frame the violent story well.
Blood & Gore – Okay one minor spoiler here. The movie begins with a man being pulled in two by cars. The movie shows a lot of the violent actions that make Cohen as infamous as he is. This does not mean Tarantino volumes of blood though. It is kept realistic and short, you get the gist of what is happening and you are appropriately horrified to see it.
Gun violence – There is a lot of it. If you were worried about the re-shoots making this action movie tame, let me put your fears to rest. This movie is riddiled with gun fights and things that go bang. They may have taken out the movie theatre shooting scene, but it was replaced with something just as explosive. This movie is in a world where most men on the streets are military trained to use guns and that makes them much more deadly.
A point they like to touch on every few scenes is that these men are veterans of the war. They see this fight against Mickey Cohen as combat and they feel it is their duty to take him out. The way it plays against their morality especially when the innocent public comes into it makes these scenes extra intense.