Movie review – Gangsters, glamour and guts

2013-01-13 10:00

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Film: Gangster Squad (Nu Metro)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Featuring: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte and Emma Stone

Rating: 7/10

A dream-team cast of awards-season favourites and a director who reinvented the zombie movie as his opening big-screen gambit make Gangster Squad irresistible.

Add to that its chic post-World War 2 styling, and a story where good outwits bad every time, and you have a great weekend watch.

The film is based on journalist Paul Lieberman’s book about the secretive, anything-goes squad of cops employed to stop the mafia getting its claws properly into Los Angeles. Central to the plot is Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn, a boxer-turned-gangster whose ruthlessness knows no bounds.

To take down the mob, the gangster squad have to cut the head off the beast – Cohen.

Heading up the squad is John O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Milk, opposite Penn. He is a straight-arrow cop and war hero who has no intention of watching folks as bad as the Nazis take over his hometown, where he intends to have a family and eat home-baked apple pie.

After O’Mara single-handedly closes down one of Cohen’s brothels, Nick Nolte’s grizzled sheriff asks him to put together a corps of guys who will be willing to break the law to bring down Cohen and his ilk.

O’Mara picksguys who don’t much like rules anyway, including Jerry Wooter (Ryan Gosling), a womaniser with an eye for dangerous damsels in distress; Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) a deadeye shot; and Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña), his weird sidekick.

Emma Stone sashays onto the screen as Grace Faraday, Cohen’s reluctant girlfriend who much prefers Wooter. She and Gosling share a whole lot of chemistry.

The film is luxuriously styled to capture the opulence and flair of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s.

Gosling’s suits and Stone’s wardrobe are reason enough to see it. The sets also pay close attention to the detail of the era and director Ruben Fleischer, who hammed up the living dead in Zombieland, changes pace to create a suspenseful, shoot-em-up mafia flick.

Gangster Squad is a great way to start your 2013 before getting stuck into the nitty-gritty of Oscar season.

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