Gangster Squad

Rated 15, 113 minutes   ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Reuben Fleischer directs Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick and Nick Nolte in this 1940s era gangster noir set in the streets of Los Angeles.

In 1940s LA, gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn) has got most of the town sewn up. The cops are in his pocket, and anyone who tries to cross him is fed to the dogs – literally. Until one grizzled, hard drinking police chief (Nolte) decides enough is enough. He instructs Sgt John O’mara (Brolin) to put together a covert team (“no badges, no names…”) and drive Cohen out of town.

Brolin has a touch of the Dick Tracy square jaw about him, and his team is a suitably oddball assortment of characters: Kennard (Patrick) and Ramirez (Peña) form a double act with Peña’s character being the sidekick ‘Hopalong’ to Patrick’s moustachioed gunslinger. Ribisi is a slightly nerdish surveillance expert and Ryan Gosling’s “Jerry Wooters” (yeah, right!) plays Face Man out of the A Team in a scorching romantic subplot with Emma Stone’s good time girl.

The script is often witty, with some cracking one liners (many of them rude), and there’s plenty of action and blazing tommy guns. Sean Penn’s psychopathic villain steals the film, and is absolutely worth the price of admission. This is no Untouchables, even though the plot has many similarities, and it doesn’t pretend to be, but it’s a solid 113 minutes of fun-toting action.