Director Ruben Fleischer resurrects the "City of Angels" circa the 1950s in the new film "Gangster Squad," starring actors Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone. The film takes place in a time when the fight for a city is crucial to its continuance.
Attendee Joey Young, 19, didn't originally come to see this film in theaters but said some of the "icky" parts didn't bother her too much when asked about the violence and recommends the acting."The casting was done well and thought out," she said.
As notorious gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn) continues to rule the city, a band of cop vigilantes are chosen to not only bring down the criminal, but shatter his empire, discouraging others like him in the future. The group consists of Sergeant John O'Mara (Brolin), who represents the ultimate crusader as the squad's leader, and sergeant Jerry Wooters (Gosling), a laid-back contrast to O'Mara's intense character. Wooters is just as driven to come down on the thug business, and may even have more of a reason to, but he is not blindsided by his cause.Other players on the team are an older sharpshooting lawman Max Kennard (Robert Patrick), smart technologist Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), eager Latino officer Navidad Ramirez (Michael Pena), and stylish black cop Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie). Each one brings his own game and expertise to the chase and demise of Cohen. Don't write this movie off as just another action thriller, even though it certainly proves as such. The emotional parts are intense and leave one a bit breathless since they don't last long. The ethical purpose of the group is brought up by the weakest link, Keller. He is the most uncomfortable in harming the bad guys, while the others simply shrug it off. At one point he asks O'Mara what the difference between them and Mickey is.
Moviegoers less educated in real mobster crime might not realize that the idealized time and larger-than-life characters in the film are based on real events, as portrayed in journalist Paul Lieberman's novel, "Gangster Squad: Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles." The no-bull persona offered by Penn is not a far cry from the actual man who spent his last days in the infamous penitentiary of Alcatraz. Cohen was known for his lavish lifestyle, expensive suits and barrage of female beauties. His most notable trait, however, is his propensity for callous violence. A few scenes couldn't help but leave viewers slack-jawed and wondering about the film's validity.
Anne Ramsey, a freshman in nursing, enjoyed the "happy ending," which won't be spoiled here, and enjoyed the dark humor in places."I would say (the film) reminded me of 'The Godfather' with all the gangsters," Ramsey said.
The reminiscent film mimics the epic shootings of the movie "Sin City" in some ways, and at times the cartoonish nature trips audiences up. But they are nevertheless recovered by the sheer pace of the story. From the start, the vigilantes are lined up as perfectly as chess pieces and moved with exact precision. By the finish every role has served its purpose. After the great battle for Los Angeles is complete, they even go on to their individual happy endings
.Grace Faraday (Stone) acts as the young love of not only villain Cohen, but also Jerry Wooters. It may be her tomato red hair or quiet cynicism that attracts the vastly different men, but no matter the cause, she is clearly the queen chess piece. This follows as she can easily maneuver sides, white and black, until checkmating her former king in the end. Viewers should watch the film at a local Regal Cinemas theater for a look back to the past. The term battle: LA has never been so true.