Some of my favorite movies are "guy" movies. I'll admit, if it wasn't for the star I want to be my best friend (Emma Stone) and the star I want to be my boyfriend (Ryan Gosling), I might not have ever made it to see this movie. But, alas, these two were coupling up again in a swanky 50's mob film and I was mildly impressed by the trailer which promised lots of gunfire and a story based on truth.
Basically, a mob boss named Mickey is trying to take over LA with drugs, whores, and general illegal activity. He's a bad SOB who has almost every town official in his pocket and therefore an invisible free pass that has him safe and sound from the "good guys". Which makes Sgt. John pretty P.O.-ed having to come home from the war to live with his pregnant wife in "paradise" while Mickey's running the town into the ground. It doesn't take long for Sgt. to get the go-ahead to create a squad of police to hit and destroy each of Mickey's joints until he's forced to take the money he has left and leave town. So we have our motley crew of "good guys" to act like "bad guys" and lots of gritty side stories and blood thrown in to balance out something that now reminds me of a western.
It was good. Funny in the darker way I tend to favor and great acting all around. Although they had their LA/gangster/action film cliches thrown in every now and then, overall the movie did not come off phony. Sean Penn as Mickey was very good. (Side note: I kept wondering if they'd put makeup on him, he stuffed cotton balls in the sides of his cheeks, or he just really had aged like that since last I'd seen him.) Also, Brolin was good, but as the main character, he was kind of upstaged.
Gosling was really good. I never think he gets enough (or any) credit for how good an actor he is because he's so pretty. I feel the same way about Tom Cruise (all through the years) except Cruise chooses action, where Gosling chooses such odd characters and unique roles. I realize I may have lost my credibility for advocating Gosling's acting chops after starting this review by saying he's my someday-boyfriend. Haha.
Gangster Squad (Fleischer, 2013) got some good R-rated action/violence, some great character acting, and a plot that has something for everyone. Verdict: SAY-YES.