*Warning*: This is going to be my most biased review ever written.
I am a cop movie junkie. Pretty much any movie or show that has to do with cops are my bread & butter. It's my favorite genre and they are always most anticipated movies whenever I hear about them. Take a look at my favorite movies of all-time and you'll see a plethora of anything and everything involving cops. LA Confidential, The Departed, Training Day, Narc, Pride and Glory, Street Kings, Heat, etc. I can go on and on and on. It's as close to an obsession as it can possibly be. But I'm not ashamed... I'm proud of it dammit!
Mickey Cohen finished off his takeover on the city of Chicago, but he's still not happy. He wants bigger and better things for himself, so he sets his sights on the "City of Angels" Los Angeles California. He's a tough as nails former boxer and he doesn't take any shit from anyone. And it isn't long before he's got almost the entire city in his pocket...even most of the higher-ups like judges and the majority of the police department. The Chief of Police is in danger of his city crumbling down around him, so he decides to appoint his toughest detective John O'Mara the head of a special unit to take down Cohen and his whole outfit. And that's where it all starts.
The main attraction of this movie is likely to be its fantastic cast. Everyone in this is completely on point and they sell the shit out of it. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, & a bunch more recognizable faces that you can't quite put a name to but you know you've seen them in a lot of other stuff. Every actor takes on their roles with gusto and plays them to the fullest. Brolin, Gosling, & Penn are the true stars of the movie, but the smaller supporting roles are quite good too. Some are really funny and add a lot of depth to their characters that could have easily been nonexistent. I'm going to make special mention of Sean Penn though because this is the first time in a long while that I've seen him actually look like he's having fun with a role. He chews up the scenery at every turn and spits it right back out. He goes for broke all the way and relishes every single moment. He's just so evil and such a fuckhead that it's impossible to look away when he's on screen. Of course he's over-the-top, but that just makes it even better and all the more fun to watch. Another thing to mention is the fantastic attention to period detail. The cars, clothes, buildings, etc. all looked great and further helped to be immersed in LA circa 1949. Talk about beautiful places... 1940's Los Angeles at night was gorgeous.
This is inspired by a true story, so its hard to really be truly invested in the outcome since you basically already know how it ends. It didn't matter to me though. I was 100% invested from the word go and I was completely immersed in this world, the characters, and everywhere they took me.
As I said in the beginning I'm extremely biased. When it comes to cop movies my opinion should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. Not everyone is going to feel the same way about this movie as I did...in fact most people might downright hate it. It is your basic run-of-the-mill cops vs the mob movie. Every staple of this genre is present here and no cliché is left unturned. For my money though this is a movie that does it all the right way. It is very easy to fuck up a genre film without the right personnel behind it. Now, director Ruben Fleischer isn't a household name and the 2 movies he had under his belt before this(Zombieland & 30 Minutes or Less) don't necessarily instill that much confidence when it comes to making a gangster movie. The sonuvabitch pulled it off though and god bless him for it.
So bottom line is: See the movie. Don't listen to my rambling biased ass...just see the movie and decide for yourself which side of the fence you're on. If you're a fan of the cast or the genre at all, then I'd say it's totally worth it.
Oh, and another thing... The re-shot sequence is actually very good. The whole setting in Chinatown brings it all together and it is quite bad ass. While I do hope to see the deleted Theater scene someday...I have no problem with the scene that replaced it and not having the old scene in there didn't hamper my overall enjoyment of the movie.