Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling
Set in 1949 this is the true story of Mickey Cohen (Penn) a mobster who ruled Los Angeles having had every lawman in the city on his payroll. From policemen to the top judges, he owned them all. He was evil, ruthless and unbalanced stopping at nothing to ensure that his wealth & power escalated through all sorts of illegal rackets. He would dispose of anyone who got in his way mercilessly as a warning to others. The chief of police wanted this man stopped so he enlisted Sgt John O’mara (Brolin) to help form a secret squad incorporating only the best law officers to eradicate the city of this beast. And so the Gangster Squad was formed... but did they succeed? A memorable comment is made by a member of the squad:
“If you try and succeed you're a hero... but if you try and fail you're a fool”
Sean Penn is a quiet achiever in Hollywood, an actor who chooses his roles carefully purposely avoiding high profile blockbusters for the smaller high quality film. He gives an astonishing performance as the vile mobster who is obsessed with ever growing power. An academy award nomination for his performance is imminent. Gosling who was duped of an Academy award nomination in 2012 for his performance in Drive, delivers as the squad member who dares to romance the mobster’s girl. The rest of the cast are brilliant notably Nick Nolte who has a small, but standout role as the chief of police.
This is an incredible movie which overshadows other recent ones in this genre. Splendid camera work & a script overflowing with action & violence, highlights what a dangerous and morbid era this was. Little known director Ruben Fleischer’s name should be on the credits of many more movies in the future, after extracting such powerful performances from a talented cast to create this realistic & most satisfying motion picture experience. JAKE