CRIME DRAMA; 1hr 52min
STARRING: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Tough guise: from left, Ribisi, Brolin, Patrick, Gosling, Peña and Mackie
Inspired by a true and sordid story, Gangster Squad starts out mean with a spot of goon torture. It rapidly gets meaner, with straight-arrow LAPD Sgt John O’Mara (Brolin) horning in on one of mobster Mickey Cohen’s operations and getting roughed up for his pains. It’s 1949, Cohen (Penn) runs the town and Police Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) isn’t happy. His brief to O’Mara, to “drive that bastard out of this city,” kicks off a guerrilla war waged by covert cops (Brolin, Gosling, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Anthony Mackie and Robert Patrick) doing their utmost not to get shot.
Neither plot nor characters break any mould, and there’s no Wow! power to write home about, but director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland ) at least keeps things noirishly sleek and chic. These were stylish times and the classy cast (Stone is a looker as Cohen’s girl, Grace) keeps authentically cool, with a rattlesnake-vicious Penn the psychotic exception. As a rock-hard case in a drop-dead suit, he’s a fitting figurehead for a gilded and rotting regime.