Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad

Notorious Los Angeles gangster Mickey Cohen has been portrayed by several actors over the years, including Harvey Keitel, who copped an Oscar-nomination for 'Bugsy.' Now Sean Penn plays the former boxer-turned-mobster who became the prime West Coast promoter of drugs, gaming and prostitution as a cold, ruthless psychopath.

Bookmark and Share

Gangster Squad
(Warner Bros.)

In 1949, LAPD Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin), a no-nonsense WWII combat vet, decided to take down Cohen, assembling an undercover 'Gangster Squad' of renegade officers handpicked by his worried, pregnant wife, Connie (Mireille Enos), and authorized by crusading Commissioner William Parker (Nick Nolte). There's electronics whiz Conwell Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), black street enforcer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), grizzled sharp-shooter Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) with his Hispanic apprentice Navidad Ramirez (Michael Pena), and cocky, womanizing rebel Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who falls for Mickey Cohen's moll, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), as they're waging guerrilla warfare.

Scripted by former LA homicide detective Will Beall from Paul Lieberman's series of articles and directed with an astonishing lack of subtlety by Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"), this violently sensationalistic melodrama has a troubled history. A major machine-gun massacre that had been filmed at Hollywood's legendary Grauman's Chinese Theater - and was shown in the theatrical 'Coming Attractions' trailer - was scrapped after the Aurora, Colorado, tragedy and the confrontation re-staged in Chinatown. Then the film's release was postponed in deference to the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy.

What remains is slick, synthetic, cartoonish schlock. Despite occasional comedic moments, it's filled with broadly caricatured performances that bear only a passing resemblance to historical truth. The real-life Mickey Cohen was known to be charismatic, charming the celebrated film colony along with journalists and politicians with parties at his Brentwood mansion.

What's most memorable is the production design, including a particularly grisly, introductory killing staged beneath the famed HOLLYWOODLAND sign (it was abbreviated shortly afterward) and the glitzy, art deco nightclubs like Slapsy Maxie's, where slinky femme fatales enticed tuxedo-clad customers.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Gangster Squad" is a garish, bullet-riddled 4 - a completely forgettable flick.

By Susan Granger, © 2013.



Latest Additions to AZR

TRANSCENDENCE - TERMINALLY BORING

In the motion picture industry, it's often difficult to make the career transition from cinematographer to director because, often, when cameramen direct, they make the fatal mistake of concentrating visual imagery, as opposed to storytelling. And Willy Pfister, renowned collaborator of Christopher ...

REVIEW, CHINESE PUZZLE (CASSE-TêTE CHINOIS)

Those of us who ever wandered what life brought to L'Auberge Espagnole's characters Xavier (Romain Duris), Wendy (Kelly Reilly), Martine (Audrey Tautou) and Isabelle (Cécile De France) are in for a great treat. There is a third part to this story, which director Cédric Klapisch is eager to ...

REVIEW, TASTING MENU (MENú DEGUSTACIó)

"Tasting Menu" might be compared by some to "Babette's Feast," Gabriel Axel's film about a remote, 19th Century Danish community whose religious views forbid them to eat more than gruel but who are upended by a fantastic meal prepared by their French housekeeper. But Roger Gual's movie does not cent ...

SABOTAGE - ARNOLD'S MUCHO-MACHO COMEBACK

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, veteran leader of a dauntless squad of grubby undercover DEA agents, who discovers, after effectively hiding the 10 million dollars they skimmed off after a massive raid of the "money room" at a Mexican drug cartel safe house, that someone has hei ...

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER - INTRIGUING ESPIONAGE THRILLER

Marvel's new cinematic adventure not only continues the superhero saga but also plunges into a Cold War conspiracy which could deliver covert technology into the hands of an enemy agent. Set two years after "The Avengers" alien attack in New York, U.S. Army Officer Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chr ...


View Local News Sources From 33,000+ Neighborhoods Nationwide!



Eg : Movie Review, Arizona, Fishing, etc.
Search results for

In Our Current Issue


Arizona Reporter on Twitter Follow to Arizona Reporter on Facebook Subscribe to Arizona Reporter on Yahoo News Arizona Reporter RSS Feed Subscribe to Arizona Reporter via Kindle!
View Local News Sources


Arizona Newswire

Latest Reviews
By Harvey Critic

HARVEY KARTEN
Member NYFCO

Arizona

Latest Reviews
By Susan Granger

Member NYFCO

James Mapes
Quantum Leap Thinking

An Owner's Guide to the Mind