What do you do when you plan on releasing a movie containing a shooting incident in a movie theater? Normally, you would just release it, but when such an accident happened recently, it become more delicate. In that case you might actually want to postpone the movie and change the one scene. That is exactly what Gangster Squad director Ruben Fleischer did. Therefore the movie wasn’t released until a few weeks ago, causing us to watch the trailers a little longer and wait for the release. With this knowledge, I pretty much felt obligated to see what the movie turned out to be.
The movie plays in the city of Los Angeles in 1949. The days where many men have come back from the war. Dark times in which the city of Los Angeles is about to fall to the mob. In other words, the city needs a hero to come and save itself. Well, as we all know there is no such thing like a true super hero to save the day. So the chief of police hires a detective with a good sense of right and wrong to go to war, with the mafia. He gets to select a team of four or five other agents to beat the mafia that is brining LA on its knees. By all means necessary, but without back-up if it all goes down wrong. Basically, their mission has no glory, just the knowledge they saved the city. Still, the job is taken and sgt. O’Mara takes the fight. Their means are unorthodox. Their use of violence is excessive, but it works. All leading to a movie with lots of action and speed. Making it a joy to watch and very entertaining as well.
What definitely adds to the quality of this movie is the perfectly created setting. Throughout the movie you really have the idea that you are looking at Los Angeles it was back in 1949. The buildings, the cars, the costumes, the weapons and even the music just fit the picture perfectly. Throughout the movie the atmosphere just fits the story and time line. This gives the movie a lot more credibility, especially because it claims to be based on a true story. Basically, this movie has the look and feel you expect from a movie that takes place in the glory days of the mafia. Though it has to be said that the movie is a little less dark and on the edge than the great classics were. Then again, that standard is hard to tip anyways. Besides, this movie is a lot better than the average action mafia movie that has been made since the Godfather and Scarface. For which the director and actors truly deserve credit.
Okay, so the movie is no way near being amongst the rightful heirs of the Godfather or Scarface, but that is almost impossible. This definitely doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good movie, because it truly was. After all, I found it rather entertaining and the credibility was good as I mentioned before. To achieve this, the setting played a huge part, but the actors contributed as well.
For example, Sean Penn played the role of mafia boss brilliantly. He truly got the craziness, suspicion and the God complex to the screen. He played it in a way that you actually expect a guy like Mickey Cohen to be. He looked to full of himself, to suspicious to trust anybody and crazy when it comes to violence and retaliation. Josh Brolin plays a role on the other hand of the universe. He is the cop that would give his life for justice, who would do everything within his power to prevent the mafia from taking his beloved Los Angeles. This thrives him to the edge, but also makes him blind sight for any possible trap. He is so focused, so obsessed with brining Mickey Cohen down, he forgets about his life and family. That is where Ryan Gosling plays the perfect conscious of O’Mara. The man who, despite wanting to bring Mickey Cohen down, stands up when O’Mara pushes it to far. On the other hand, he is also the pretty body who falls in love with a woman who clearly belongs to Mickey Cohen, which puts him in a difficult and dangerous situation as well. Not to mention that Emma Stone plays the perfect femme fatale.
All this together makes that the story plays out just magnificent. The story makes sense and actually walks a line that you would expect of any movie involving gangster and mafia. There are intrigues, there is violence, there is spies playing on both sides of the fields. At some point it becomes hard to tell who is to trust and who is not. Though this all plays out brilliantly during the plot. Still, they succeeded to keep you entertained for almost two hours and actually putting you on the edge of your seat. Whether there is some big gunfight going on or just sneaking around, the movie is always tense, Though it would also be fair to say there is quite some humor involved as well. At least, to those who see how some actions are truly on the edge and maybe even irresponsible. Then again, when it comes to the idea beating a top class mafia boss, there is a thin line people walk on.
So why do I still believe this movie can’t be a rightful heir to Scarface or the Godfather sequel? Well, I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet, but there is something missing. Maybe it is the lack of true mafia signs, like dead pigs of fishes in a bed? Maybe it is the melodramatic turn the true mafia leaders take in those movie? Maybe it’s the lack of Italian influences in the movie? Really, I am not sure. Though I am convinced that those who have already seen the movie will understand where I am coming from making this statement. There is just that little something, that extra special flicker of chemistry that is missing. Making the movie less good than the previously mentioned too. Though that doesn’t mean it was a bad movie, at all.
No, the opposite might be true. The historical setting and the accuracy of everything that comes with is marvelous and the action is plenty and well thought out. Add to this the realism and good acting and you know it’s just a great movie all by itself. For all those who have not yet seen the movie, but like a mix between a good old action movie, a mobster movie and a little history and true story telling, this one is a must see. All in all, Gangster Squad is a must see for all those who love mobster movies