The story that is attempting to be told here is a great one: 1940’s gangsters, a hero cop, not one but two independent females, a slightly dirty cop, racial unity, and a little bit of the good guys win. Its premise is familiar, as it is repeated often when telling a Wild West tale. Throw in that it is based on true events and you got yourself a gauranteed money maker right??? No?
Ok well then lets throw in a slew of top notch actors and hot names in Hollywood. We need a tough guy, sociopath, boxing, mob man? Oh Sean Penn would be perfect for that. Wait, Sean Penn???Thats right, folks. His performance is flawless and easily the best in the entire film. It isn’t over the top, mockery of the Godfather, but its not so serious that you can’t believe it either. Then you throw in then dynamic duo of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone for sex appeal and to bring in the young crowd. I don’t know who made the decision to make Gosling talk like he got kicked in the nuts the whole time, but I had to admit that by the end of the film I was questioning if I would ever be able to talk him into the red head sandwich Emma and I had waiting for him. With Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, and Robert Patrick bringing in the comedic relief, Anthony Mackie helping out the racial unity, Josh Brolin playing your “Captain America”-ish good guy lead, Nick Nolte making an appearance as a Police Chief (strangely enough), and Miereille Enos bringing your speaking females in this movie up to two, there is an actor in here to make this movie a hit to anyone right?
Then the dialogue happens. The writing makes this movie feel like it has Bipolar Disorder; it doesn’t know wether it wants to be a serious movie about righting Mob Crimes in the ’40’s or if it wants to make fun of the serious movie about righting Mob Crimes in the ’40’s. You’ve got everything from rewording well known sayings (Don’t shoot where its at, shoot where its going to be son), to your typical over-the-top good guy sayings (“Chief Bill Parker: I want to talk to you about the war for the soul of Los Angeles.
We’re losing her to an eastern crook. This isn’t a crime wave, it’s enemy occupation. I want you to wage guerrilla war against Mickey Cohen.Sgt. John O’Mara: Yes, sir”), to your one liners meant to reach out to your rebellious crowd (“Mickey Cohen: A cop that’s not for sale is like a dog with rabies, you just gotta put ’em down.”) Add to that the slow moving pace that even an amazing car chase sequence couldn’t help, and well I have to say this movie wasn’t very interesting. The cliche meter was well above acceptable readings and I damn near fell asleep whenever Josh Brolin talked at all.
From the sex sells stand point, the people who marketed this film did an amazing job. We saw this opening weekend, on date night, and wasn’t dissappointed in the amount of attractive people I saw. Even with all the problems, if you aren’t spending 30$ at the theater it isn’t a horrible waste of your viewing capabilities. However, I would recommend waiting til its on cable, for free, and there is nothing else on. Unless you are really light on spank-bank materials…