Wednesday, 16 January 2013



L.A. Lawless.

113 Minutes. Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick & Michael Pena. Director: Ruben Fleischer.

"We're losing Los Angeles" Nick Nolte grumbles. No he's not talking about the Lakers handing over their basketball STAPLE to the Clippers. Rather the proverbial "damsel in distress" that his perfectly played police chief, Hollywoodland city of the 1940's is. Sean Penn's devilish crime-boss, Mickey Cohen rules the city of angels with a Tommy Gun fist and its up to the G-Men to go above and beyond their hands of law to bring L.A. its shine back. That's the picture set for 'Gangster Squad'. A cops and robbers affair that see the good guys gone bad only going by the book in regards to the script based on Paul Lieberman's 'Tales From The Gangster Squad'.

Cop this, after showing the 'No Country For Old Men' wild west he had 'True Grit' and raising his stock in 'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps', Josh Brolin is charged with putting a team together to bring the West back. Boy does he lead well too, even taking some shine off poster boy Ryan Gosling (who almost had to battle for face-time with housewives, heartthrob favorite Bradley Cooper who was rumored to star). Gosling terrifically teeters between 'Drive' driven silent, sinister action acting and romancing the stone of his 'Crazy, Stupid Love' co-star Emma Stone (heck Cohen's bar may as well be the same place where Gosling taught Steve Carrell how to coral women). The perfect on screen pair show they still have the chemistry and charisma to show that they are the leading kings and queens of new Hollywood at the moment.

What would a crack unit be like without experience? Following his excellent 'End Of Watch' police story with Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena goes back in time and back to the law with a forceful performance. 'The Winter Soldier', Anthony Mackie also falcon flies after proving he was Oscar battle tested in 'The Hurt Locker', showing yet again just how much he can soar. What would any film be at the moment without the best character actor in the game Giovanni Ribisi however? A man who is working so hard like he was trying to shed the 'just call him Phoebe's brother in the credits' tag. After stuffing 'Ted' and 'Contraband' with Mark Wahlberg last year, the most versatile man in Hollywood gives this film it's technical and emotional punch. If that isn't enough how about the cool-hand of the T-1000? As Robert Patrick puts magnum force behind this film with a handlebar mustache.

With a cast of characters that runs longer than a rap sheet and some perfectly picturesque, postcard imagery of old Los Angeles this is almost the perfect picture. Still some ill-advised shots and likenesses to old favorites-which to this films credit its paying homage to rightly-means this film could never touch a classic like 'The Untouchables', but hey that's the Chicago way. They had Elliott Ness and Al Capone. Still this film was always going to have its detractors and those calling for its cut, after it was already pushed back due to the Aurora shootings in America. Give the people behind this film credit however for cutting and changing a pivotal cinema scene out of respect to the tragedy of 'The Dark Knight Rises' cinema shootings. It was the right thing to do. The only thing that could be done.

Troubles aside this film still suits and works well with styles and old-fashions as cool as the soulful Jay-Z song that called shotgun with the trailers. With amazing action and classic cinematography this is one for the books. Just check out a shining, driving character change moment from Gosling, where he also seems to tone down an accent that might have voiced more criticism all at the same time. What results is a scene as classic and sharp as his "no m'am I was just hoping to take you to bed" one-liner to Stone. With more scenes like that and the Chinatown change that proved to be as pivotal as the original intended third-act scripting, this film could almost make Costner, Connery, Garcia and De Niro proud. Still it'll have to be content holding the same Tommy as Michael Mann and Johnny Depp's John Dillinger in 'Public Enemies'. The real gangster story will always lie with the line of fire of the Chicago code. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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