Sometime in the 1950’s the LAPD got tired of the local mob killing their officers. So a few in the department decide to take matters into their own hands and ruin Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) business. Sgt. John O’ Mara (Josh Brolin) heads this team and seeks select few for very specific roles. You know the brains, the brawn, the gunman, etc. Meanwhile, Cohen is killing a few people left and right and makes it personal for a few on O’Mara’s team. So as the city falls further under Cohen’s rule the team feels the pressure to end it.
I left the theater both pleased and a little irritated. It was decently paced on the action side and gave the audience enough time to slow down to gather major parts of the story in-between fights. The murders were gory and completely unforgiving, like most gangster films. One of the more impressive things was that they really did well encompassing the jazz joints of the time. Yeah, sure, Hollywood has done it before, but this seemed bigger and more elaborate then most. However it made some of the same mistakes other films had made with gangster films it feels incredibly standard.
It has it’s moments where the mobsters establishes they’re big badasses. It has the moment where one of the main characters has a emotional turning point. It even has the standard brainy guy in the movie to help the team. The basic plot line is very Good vs. Evil, unlike Goodfellas, or even The Departed, where there is some gray in there. In other words: we’ve seen this before. Does it make the movie bad or unwatchable? No. It’s just a little disparaging since the whole point of the movie was about Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), one of the cruelest west coast gangsters of all time, and one would think it would be a little different in its execution or stand out a little differently.
Sean Penn was great, as usual, however there were a few scenes where I think he should have gotten angrier, think Mystic River, rather then punching people in the face. But I guess that’s script discrepancies and not his acting. Josh Brolin is back playing a familiar role as a stern authoritative figure and always pulled it off. Him as the lead character helped hold up half the film. Ryan Gosling was a decent pretty boy detective, but didn’t add too much to the plot. Emma Stone was almost unnoticeable and barely had any lines. Her character was underdeveloped, just like Anthony Mackie and Michael Pena‘s character. Anyway, due to this people don’t really get to see her talents shine, considering how well she’s performed in her other movies. In all honesty I don’t know what she’s doing in the movie considering her character doesn’t historically exist. However, she did a great job looking like a 50s babe. It was also great to see Nick Nolte cleaned up and in a gruff and casual kinda role. His addition did help with the political subplots in the movie.
The whole reason to go see this movie is if you have a action craving. This movie has a few historical bits to offer, but is mostly inaccurate. Like if you search for one of the main characters death, in this case Mickey Cohen whole death and arrest. Which is OK, but I think it would have helped the story some if they added maybe a little more and then extended the film some. All in all it’s really fun to watch, but don’t expect anything too deep or historical.
7.0 out of 10
IMDB – 7.3/10 as of 01/14/13
I feel ashamed for not mentioning him, but Giovanni Ribisi was good as the brains in this film. He would really shine in this if he had more screen time. He does have a few good/funny lines in this too. Its been interesting seeing him act in Ted, Contraband, and even Avatar. He’s proving to be a good actor and I do hope he eventually gets his Oscar.