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When you release the first trailer for a film, it says a lot about what that movie's meant to be, and sometimes, it's not really what you expect.
From the moment Warner Bros. started putting together "Gangster Squad," which was still called "Tales From The Gangster Squad" at that point, it seemed like it would fit neatly into a tradition of "LA Confidential" and "Mulholland Falls," movies about the history of the police in Los Angeles using real life as a jumping-off point.
And while today's trailer does indeed seem to confirm that, what I found surprising was the tone of the trailer. I guess I should have put it together when they hired Ruben Fleischer to direct the film. So far, he's had a sense of fun to what he does, a down-the-middle popcorn sensibility. That's not an insult, either, just an observation. He makes movies for the audience, and it looks like "Gangster Squad" is going to be far more focused on the fun than on the hunt for awards.
Fine by me.
There's a lot to like in this trailer, starting with Sean Penn chewing the scenery as Mickey Cohen. Then there's the reunion of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and just looking at the little bit of them together in this trailer, I think I'd rather see them star in the "Thin Man" remake than Johnny Depp and anyone else. And the premise of the film seems like it'll be a chance for a lot of young Hollywood to butt heads in all sorts of exciting ways.
Even before I moved to Los Angeles, I was fascinated by its history. This is a town built on a desert, where no life should take root, watered with decades of corruption and brutality. This city was carved out of the California landscape by terrible men with terrible ambition, and whatever Los Angeles is now, we should never lose sight of all the blood that has been spilled to get us here. "Gangster Squad" looks like they've taken this awful history and rewritten it as a sort of badass action thriller and then cast it well in every single role.
I hope this one delivers on its promise. I don't want to hear anyone start blathering about awards, either positive or negative. All I want is a good movie, one that makes use of that cast and that honors the underlying idea. And this trailer is a strong indication that they're on the right path.
"Gangster Squad" opens later this year.