There's a lot to this movie that makes you want to like it. It's got a heck of a great cast (Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and Giovanni Ribisi to name a few), and a slick look. For directors, cinematographers, and the movie buff, what is there not to love about the noir era or movies that evoke it? There are a few scenes that dazzle and impress, but overall the movie is hampered by weak story, script, and direction.
Several times in the movie, I thought to myself "How is this happening?" Because although the movie professes to be "inspired by true events", nowhere is there a believable plot or heist. Half of it doesn't make sense, and it feels more like a superhero movie than a true story of old-school LAPD. The lines delivered by characters are almost saved by the skilled actors that wield them, but not entirely. I really wanted to buy into the whole story and look and I wanted desperately to be taken by the suave Gosling/Brolin/Stone trio as well as taken by Penn's transformation into Mickey Cohen. It wasn't meant to be, though. The movie tries too hard to be smooth and misses the mark.