‘Gangster Squad’ – a modern homage to a classic genre

– Emma-Louise Kinnaird contributed to this report

Whilst mobster movies used to be a dime a dozen, there hasn’t been a genuinely great ’40s-style gangster film since the late 90s, at least.


Ryan Gosling is just one of the many actors in the film's star-studded line-up. Photo: Warner Bros.

Now, “Gangster Squad” may just be the film to revive the classic gangland genre and hook a new generation of fans.

Loosely based on the book by journalist Paul Lieberman, Gangster Squad follows Police Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), who returns home from the war to find another battle raging for control of the City of Angels.

Enlisted by the Chief of Police to save L.A from brutal mob boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), O’Mara must recruit a team of misfits to take the law into their own hands and secretly take down Cohen’s illegal operations.

Although Gangster Squad doesn’t live up to similar films like L.A. Confidential, it certainly makes for two hours of stylish storytelling. Like classic noir films, the plot is a little predictable but it’s still very entertaining with suave anti-heroes and the obligatory old-school shoot out.

One such gun fight that might have caught your attention in early trailers won’t be seen in the film: the scene, which was set in the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, had to be re-shot following the tragic Batman Rises shootings in Aurora, Colarado and the release date was delayed for four months. Instead, the fight now takes place in L.A’s Chinatown.

Director Ruben Fleischer’s modern homage to film noir is reminiscent of a Frank Miller film and 2011’s Zombieland, also directed by Fleischer, with its comic-book style action sequences.

The casting couldn’t have been any better if Warner Brothers had hopped in a time machine and pulled the real-life counterparts from the ’40s. Josh Brolin is perfect as the brooding police man who struggles to balance his duty between the city he loves and his growing family versus Sean Penn’s almost unrecognisable portrayal of vicious real-life gangster Mickey Cohen.

After starring in Fleischer’s last big feature film, “Zombieland”Emma Stone reunites with the director as Grace Faraday, a young woman caught up with the mob and the love interest of Sgt. Jerry Wooters, played by Ryan Gosling, who previously starred as Stone’s boyfriend in “Crazy, Stupid, Love”.

Whether you’re interested in action, romance or historical drama, Gangster Squad has a little bit to suit everyone and certainly raises the bar for films in 2013.

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