Okay, so sad at this movie. Was rabidly awaiting its release for SO LONG because of bootleg internet trailers and a pushed back release date. (There was this scene where everyone came from behind the screen in a movie theatre and shot everyone but then the Batman shooting happened so they cut it, released a new trailer and delayed the movie for a couple of months).
It didn’t help. This movie was so disappointing and really just funny at times. First of all, I’m a HUGE fan of violence (fictional stylized violence with purpose and intent) but this violence was very heavy handed and unnecessary and just unwieldy and unsatisfying to watch. (Except for this GREAT scene at the end, the only truly great part of the whole film). Ugh okay so Josh Brolin is this “too good for his own good” cop who wants to take down Sean Penn who is a Jewish boxer turned Crime lord/Drug lord/Kingpin? Just an evil dude basically “Mickey Cohen” (Great name). You would think he would be amazing because it’s Sean Penn!!! But it’s NOT. He’s okay but it’s not Mystic River Sean Penn.
There are so many people talented actors in this movie but they’re all underused/poorly directed. The director is Ruben Fliescher-a name that sounds really familiar but I don’t know what from. But this is his first feature-length movie, everything else is shorts and TV (some of that TV includes many episodes of Rob & Big and some episodes of Jimmy Kimmel). HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?? I’m so mad.
Ryan Gosling is in here as this cop who plays fast and loose with his morals but who SUPPOSEDLY has a change of heart after seeing a shoeshine kid he took a liking to murdered. That would be fine (correctly done in The Killer Inside Me) but it’s so sloppily put together it doesn’t hold water. His relationship with the kid has a developmental period of like two scenes where they exchange maybe five lines of dialogue. Ryan Gosling kind of boxes him around the ears then before you know it he gets killed and somehow we’re supposed to believe it shakes R.G. so deeply it changes his entire life philosophy. I’ve had Band-Aids on longer than Ryan Gosling knew that kid.
Ryan Gosling is also hooking up with Emma Stone who is also hooking up with Sean Penn. (She’s his “etiquette coach” what the what). FYI She’s the requisite femme fatale and she doesn’t do a very good job. False eyelashes and a red dress do not a sex symbol make. I can show you a few hilarious okcupid accounts if you disagree with me. It feels like someone fought very hard for her to get this role because she’s always cast as the quirky cute girl and never sexy but I feel like she wasn’t ready for it yet. I mean, she looks good, especially in said red dress, (the girl’s got legs) but it’s missing the confidence, the attitude and dripping sensuality of screen sirens of the past.
Gosling and Stone’s relationship is forced at best. They have no chemistry!! I never thought I would EVER say this, but The Amazing Spiderman does a much better job. In the trailer you think R.G. is going to be all suave and cool and take charge because he’s basically like, “I want to fuck you” and she’s like “LITERALLY SAME.” But then they just kind of are in scenes together, there’s really not any spark or chemistry at all. The sexiest thing that happens between them is when she takes his cigarette and smokes it in bed, and that’s lame as hell. He’s Ryan Gosling for God’s sake. It’s not like there’s nothing to work with. Half Nelson helloooo. At the end of the movie when he thought she was DEAD then she’s not and they see each other for the first time, it looks like they’re congratulating each other on winning a game of basketball. There’s this hug, then it’s over. Meh.
Josh Brolin and his wife have a pretty good relationship. She picks all the people for the squad (she’s set up as the smart, ‘I don’t take shit’ wife) then when they all come to the house for a barbecue she’s talking to Ryan Gosling and she’s like, “Yeah I handpicked all you guys. Except that Mexican guy I don’t know where he came from.” Sidenote: This movie rags on Hispanics SO HARD. Like, he’s the butt of ALL the jokes. At one point someone, for no reason (well it’s kind of around Christmas) calls him “Navidad” just OUT OF NOWHERE. It was actually really funny.
Giovanni Ribisi plays the ‘smart guy’ member of their little squad. He figures out all these cool little tricks, like how to tap Sean Penn’s phone lines to figure out what his moves are going to be before he does them. But it’s SO SAD because SPOILER ALERT he gets killed and he’s the only one with children and it’s CHRISTMAS. AND he gets strangled which is just not a good way to go. It’s one of those things where you realize what’s going to happen seconds before it actually happens, so you see him sitting there innocently listening to the phone line and you’re just like GIOVANNI GET OUT OF THERE but of course he doesn’t hear you because it’s a movie and you thought that in your head, and he’s backwards in time comparatively- there are a lot of issues. Basically you could never save him from being murdered so you have to just watch it and it’s terrible. Then later we see Josh Brolin go to his house to tell his wife his little boy is there and UGH. It’s “a lot of feels” as the internet would say. They hug and you kind of hate Josh Brolin in that moment because he caused this sweet little innocent angel to grow up without a father, but then you’re like, wait No Country for Old Men was awesome fuck this little kid and it’s fine.
God, all these people are so good normally!!! But I guess they were overdue for a flop. Ryan Gosling come on no one is that good (um lol but I guess there was Crazy Stupid Love in 2011 but I think we’re all trying to forget that). Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi, SEAN PENN!! But it’s like that maxim says, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. It kind of seemed like they were trying to make a 40’s version of The Departed (crime drama, ensemble cast, one girl, etc). But they REALLY super failed.
The good parts in the movie are so few and so far between. As I alluded to before, the last fight scene between Josh Brolin (John O’Mara-his name sounds like a salad dressing) and Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is UNREAL. It’s so good. When violence is good I can’t really sit still watching it because my adrenaline floods, and during that scene I kept sitting forward in my seat and uncontrollably shaking my legs and hands. But I was in one of those movie theatres where all the seats are connected in the row so I’m pretty sure everyone I saw it with thought someone was having a seizure or that there was a small squirrel who got lose in the theatre and found some popcorn right beneath us.
But basically leading up to this scene, the squad and Mickey’s men have this intense car chase where they’re throwing sticks of dynamite at each other and shooting everything and Mickey retaliates and goes after some of them (RIP Giovanni) and tried to kill Emma Stone but somehow she slinked away but so finally he and Josh Brolin are having this face off in a public park of some sort. Someplace where there’s a fountain at night. And it’s just good fighting, like they’re duking it out and each of them keeps landing these face and body shots that you can FEEL. It’s a good match up because Mickey Cohen used to be a boxer but he’s been rich for too long, he’s out of practice and kind of old and is a little soft from being at the top for so long. And Josh Brolin just has the heart, he has the golden light of justice on his side and he’s fueled by this need to protect the city, his partners, his baby, his wife, etc. (savior complex). But so finally Josh wins. He doesn’t kill him, but he arrests him and takes him to the station. I think you’re supposed to feel like dignity won out, I got the sense it would have been base or criminal of Brolin to murder him there in the street, even though that was the point of the whole movie- to take Mickey Cohen down-but when you get there it feels wrong somehow for him to do that.
OH RIGHT I forgot but Nick Nolte is the police chief. Seems irrelevant until it’s not.
Basically, disappointed. Violence was meh, story was okay. Characters were well acted but pretty two-dimensional. Overall not worth it. Still I’m glad I saw that instead of the Hobbit blech.