Summary: Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and—if he has his way—every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.
Based on the book by Paul Lieberman, GANGSTER SQUAD is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 10th January, 2012
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Rubin Fleischer
Screenwriter: Will Beall, Paul Lieberman (book)
Cast: Austin Abrams (Pete), John Aylward (Judge Carter), Mick Betancourt (Detective Sgt. Will Hendricks), De’aundre Bonds (Duke Del-Red), Mac Brandt (Bruiser), Josh Brolin (Sgt. John O’Mara), James Carpinello (Johnny Stomp), Dennis Cockrum (Elmer Jackson), Jack Conley (Sheriff Biscailuz), Jonny Coyne (Grimes), Max Daniels (Jeffrey Clark),Darrell Davis (Officer Wyler), Christopher Doyle (Edgar Beaumont), Isabel Dresden (Hedy Lamarr), Mireille Enos (Connie O’Mara), Jim Fitzpatrick (Terry McMurray), Troy Garity (Wrevock), Tanner Gill (Hookey Rothman), Ryan Gosling (Sgt. Jerry Wooters), Frank Grillo (Jimmy Reagan), Don Harvey (Officer Funston), James Hebert (Mitch Racine), Austin Highsmith (Patty), Pat Jankiewicz (Nico), Evan Jones (Neddy Herbert), Neil Koppel (Max Soloman), Anthony Mackie (Officer Coleman Harris), Holt McCallany (Karl Lennox), Nancy McCrumb (Betty Page), Jack McGee (Lt. Quincannon), Brandon Molale (Jimmy ‘Bockscar’ Knox), Anthony Molinari (Lorenzo Molinari), Nick Nolte (Chief Parker), Michael Papajohn (Mike ‘The Flea’), Robert Patrick (Officer Max Kennard), Michael Pena (Officer Navidad Ramirez), Josh Pence (Officer Darryl Gates), Sean Penn (Mickey Cohen), Jon Polito (Dragna), Giovanni Ribisi (Officer Conway Keeler), Esther Scott (Letty), Sullivan Stapleton (Jack Whelan), Emma Stone (Grace Faraday), Yvette Tucker (Carmen Miranda), Wade Williams (Rourke), Jeff Wolfe (Giovanni Vacarezza)
Runtime: 113 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Gangster Squad’ Review:
Whenever you hear that the editors have taken to a film in a bid to appease the censors and make it ‘okay’ for audiences to watch you know the film is likely to look like a mess. ‘Taken 2’ was a perfect example last year and now the same thing has happened to ‘Gangster Squad’.
Firstly the filmmakers had to change a major scene in the film because of the cinema massacre in the States and then it feels like the editor savaged it again in a bid to try and please the shifting belief on guns in the United States…a big problem considering a large chunk of ‘Gangster Squad’ is set in a time when gun culture was celebrated. The result is a film that doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be as aggressive as ‘The Departed’ or comical like ‘Dick Tracy’.
Based on a novel by Paul Lieberman ‘Gangster Squad’ is set in Los Angeles in 1949 and finds former boxer turned gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn – This Must Be The Place, The Tree Of Life) carving a name for himself by cutting down anyone who gets in his way. With Cohen and his cronies virtually ridding Los Angeles of any other gangsters officials such as Chief Parker (Nick Nolte – Parker, The Company You Keep) begin to realize that if something isn’t done soon than Cohen will soon ‘own’ the City of Angels.
The fact that Cohen also has many Police Officers on his payroll means that Parker now has to technically go outside of the law and put together a secret hit squad to get rid of Cohen. He places trusted hard-working cop Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin – Men In Black 3, True Grit) in charge of the squad. And while O’Mara is eager to take down Cohen his heavily pregnant wife, Connie (Mireill Enos – TV’S The Killing, TV’S Big Love) is not so pleased that her husband is going to war with such a dangerous man.
In the end Connie relents and decides to help her husband pick a group of men that will not only protect O’Mara but also be unapproachable to Cohen. Together she and O’Mara pick tech-savvy Officer Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi – Ted, Columbus Circle), the determined Officer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Man On A Ledge) and a relic from the old West Officer Max Kennard (Robert Patrick – TV’S Last Resort, Trouble With The Curve).
The posse is then completed when Kennard’s partner and protégé Officer Navidad Ramirez (Michael Pena – End Of Watch, Tower Heist) and the reluctant Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling – The Place Beyond The Pines, The Ides Of March) decide they also want to be part of the action. While the group seem to have the odds stacked up against them their mission is further clouded by the fact that Wooters is having a relationship with Cohen’s girlfriend, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone – Movie 43, The Amazing Spider-Man).
Director, Ruben Flesischer (TV’S Escape My Life, 30 Minutes Or Less) really is behind the eight-ball with ‘Gangster Squad’. At times his style of filming action works, although it is easy to see that he has been influenced by watching the work of Guy Ritchie, but he is let down by a script that delivers some truly awful lines and an editor that seems intent on sabotaging the film with some edits so corny that people during screenings have broken out into laughter.
The story behind ‘Gangster Squad’ could have made a truly sensational film… especially if someone like Martin Scorsese had taken over the reins as director, but in order for the story to have worked this movie needed to be a lot more aggressive and violent. Mickey Cohen was not a nice man and the version here seems tame when compared to the real life stories. Likewise with the guys in the hit squad, they are portrayed as ‘fluffy teddy bears’ when they are really a bunch of ruthless guys who are willing to do anything to bring down Cohen.
The only actor who really gets anything to work with in ‘Gangster Squad’ is Sean Penn. He relishes getting to play Cohen but the rest of the cast suffer as a result of the poor script. Josh Brolin still seems like he is playing Tommy Lee Jones’ son while Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are well and truly below par.
‘Gangster Squad’ could have been one of the films of the year but sadly an inept screenwriter and editor drag it right down amongst the other average films.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Gangster Squad′: Check Episode #15 of our The Good The Bad The Ugly Podcast for a more in-depth review of ‘Gangster Squad’. Also check http://www.helium.com/items/2408688-gangster-squad-review