It’s been a while since a genuinely exciting mob movie hit the big screen, but with the cinematic release of Gangster Squad in January 2013 we have a cross between The Untouchables, The Goodfellers, La Confidential and Sin City. The DVD for the movie was released on the 27th May 2013 and if you missed it at the cinema then the small screen view is just as captivating and stylish as it was at the movies.
Set in Los Angeles of the late 1940s the Gangster Squad is a glossy and brutal take on post World War II crime in the city of angels. With LA mob boss Micky Cohen (Sean Penn) taking over the city and getting under the skin of the better half of the Los Angeles Police Department, while the other half sits comfortably in his pocket, Sergeant John O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin (Men In Black 3), is selected by hard bitten Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) to wage war on the mob empire.
He initially recruits crack gun specialist Max Kennard (Robert Patrick), the knife throwing long arm of the law that is Coleman Harris (Anthonie Mackie) and tech genius of the time Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) to become a part of his gangster squad to take down the Cohen controlled operations. They’re also joined by Kennard’s mexican partner Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña) who forces his way into the squad to help take out the crime syndicate.
While his first attempt to pull in Sergeant Jerry Wooters, played by Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond The Pines), is met with indifference he’s eventually drawn in after seeing Cohen’s killer instinct first hand. The fact that he also manages to successfully hit on the mob boss’ girl Grace Faraday – played by Emma Stone (The Help) – nudges him in the right direction too.
There’s a minor spoof element to the delivery of Gangster Squad alongside the comic book sheen of the cinematic style, which has similarities to the look and feel of Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby adaptation. While some critics cite these as negatives our take is that this gives the movie a unique look and feel and a slightly self deprecating awareness.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) with the screenplay written by Will Beall, and based on Tales From The Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman, it’s a film that delivers a fresh take on the crime movie genre. It’s got killer fight scenes, full on shoot-outs and glossy cinematography, set design and wardrobe, making it an assault to the senses.
Gangster Squad DVD review: 3.8/5