A popular staple of the screen since cinema began, gangster movies have traditionally been the domain of men. They often feature prominent female characters, but for the most part, it's been the guys doin' the gangsterin'.
This prevailing dynamic gets turned on its head in the new star-studded period gangster drama The Kitchen, led by three of the most in-demand actresses of the moment: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) and Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale).
They play Kathy, Ruby and Claire, all married to members of the Irish mafia in New York's infamously rough Hell's Kitchen in the late-1970s.
After a robbery goes awry and their husbands are sent down, these three ladies step up and take over the local protection racket. Although they find empowerment in their new responsibilities, things inevitably get complicated.
Speaking to TimeOut in Hollywood alongside her co-stars and director Andrea Berloff, McCarthy says she related to the way the three women take charge of their own lives, even if she uses less violence in her own endeavours.
"I'm not murdering people. Yet!" laughs McCarthy. "But I think just being in this career, at some point you have to be crazy enough to be like, 'All right. I'll just do it.' It takes a certain amount of putting yourself out there. So I think I've always kind of taken things into my own hands."
Moss says that when she first read the script, it was the messy nature of the characters that appealed to her, as opposed to how the story subverted the gangster genre.
"They're all really complicated women," says Moss. "They aren't perfect, they do morally ambiguous things. They are real women and real people whether they are men or women. So if there's a feminist aspect to the film, I think it's just in the statement of equality.
"These are just as complicated characters as if there was a man playing them, there's no difference really. We're just trying to make a good movie. It just happens to have three women leading it, which should be fine."
Haddish says she's long desired to be in a gangster movie.
"Well, I became a big fan of gangster movies because when I used to buy weed when it was illegal, you had to go to the weed man's house and there was always a gangster movie playing, like Scarface, Belly, The Godfather, this type of movies.
"I always wanted to be Michelle Pfeiffer [from Scarface] when she comes down the stairs. I always wanted to do something like that - and I'm doing it."
It's a genre that has always appealed to McCarthy, too.
"I love it," says McCarthy "I love the whole constructed family like sometimes it's real family. I'm fascinated with that heightened loyalty that becomes all-encompassing. I always find that riveting, the bad choices people will make for the family. You're just not seeing what's important and it's exciting, it's a dangerous world."
The Kitchen is being released at a time when there is an increasingly loud call for more female representation in Hollywood both behind and in front of the camera.
"I don't think I set out to be progressive," says The Kitchen's director Andrea Berloff, who was nominated for an Oscar for writing 2016's Straight Outta Compton.
"I think I set out to tell a really fun piece of entertainment and to really get people excited. If the cinema is going to survive we have to create a reason for people to go to the theatre. There's a reason to go to see The Kitchen, because you haven't seen these women do these roles before."
Berloff says she believes in the integrity behind the recent shift towards more female cinematic representation.
"I do think it's honest," says Berloff. "I also think that we've got to make sure audiences go see these movies. It's simple. I think they're genuinely interested in hiring women to direct movies.
"I also think that if these movies don't work and make money … I don't know what's going to happen in three years. So we have to make it clear to audiences that this is beyond just going to see a movie. If you want this kind of cultural change, you have to support it."
Who: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss and Andrea Berloff
What: The Kitchen
When: In cinemas today