Gangster Squad

Rated 4.0

Director Ruben Fleischer and writer Will Beall (taking off from Paul Lieberman's book) recount the efforts of Los Angeles police in 1949 to bring down mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn, succulently hammy) with a handpicked detail of maverick cops (led by an iron-jawed Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, cranking the charm factor up to 11). The movie is largely fictitious, but golly gee, what swell fiction it is! A smart, snappy script, nonstop gun-blazing action, and a powerhouse cast (Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, Michael Peña, plus Emma Stone for glamour) all add up to an exciting throwback to the Warner Bros. gangster movies of the early sound era, punched over with grit, wit and the glowing retro sheen of L.A. Confidential (cinematographer Dion Beebe really outdoes himself).