Delicate line to walk for period settings. When opting for recognizable actors, filmmakers have to be careful. What you want are those household names blending into their characters and the environment. Bring their persona into whatever time period you're recreating and not come off as a distraction, like having Jack Nicholson, with all his isms, in Chinatown. What you fear are those famous faces playing dress-up like li'l kids.
Watching the new Gangster Squad trailer, I'm struck by the latter. It's an impressive ensemble. Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick and Nick Nolte all look fine. Filling out the roles as written in the character-breakdown. Nothing more or less.
But that January 2013 release date, man. The tragedy in Aurora deflated any momentum the original trailer had. The sole distinguishing part was what ultimately, and understandably, led to the reshoots and five-month delay; the movie-theater shootout.
They say that single-handedly led to the January move. There is truth there. It would have been distracting and distasteful. That doesn't however make up for how generic the rest of Gangster Squad looks. If you're predisposed to the gangster genre, especially the period-setting, I imagine you're already enticed to see this. As a guy who considers himself a fan of said genre, I remain unimpressed.