Any lingering doubt about Ryan Gosling’s ability to make women moisten their… lips (and the swollen corollary for certain guys) is laid to rest here when Ryan picks up Emma Stone (looking spectacular, looking not like herself) right from under boyfriend Sean Penn’s big Jewish nose. Sean Penn is L.A.-based gangster Mickey Cohen, and he plays it all big — the rages, the spitting, halting voice and the physicality. Penn finds a way to make Cohen’s anger and corruption come to life in his features, which seem to have lives of their own, his mouth, his nose; like Stone, he ends up looking nothing like himself. This is scenery chewing at its finest, immensely enjoyable as is the whole movie, which balances Penn’s vivid viciousness with stoic, square-jawed, noir-y Josh Brolin (interesting to speculate what DICK TRACY would have been like had Brolin played him) and Gosling, who’s almost in another movie, but who was born to wear those period suits and who absolutely smolders on screen. Gosling and Stone have the kind of glamour that’s been missing for so long, we usually define it citing Golden Age names from last century. If anyone can bring it back, they can. As history, GANGSTER SQUAD rightfully advises in an opening credit that it was merely “inspired” by the story of Mickey Cohen: the screenplay amps him up as an all-powerful threat to civilization, a real-life Bane. There are also “Mission: Impossible”-style turns that don’t quite work, and a few humorous moments seem out of place. But I got goosebumps even before the movie began when the Warner Brothers logo came up. This is the studio that invented the gangster flick (THE PUBLIC ENEMY, LITTLE CAESAR, I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG). GANGSTER SQUAD is a worthy addition. — Jeff Schultz

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