Jan 03 2013
Cohen (Penn) runs every show on the East Coast; be it drugs, guns or prostitutes, and is keen to extend the reach of his criminal empire beyond state lines via a wire-betting racket. Aiding him are not only his own goons, but also cops and politicians who seem to be mere puppets under his control. No wonder no cop is willing to take on this mafia, despite seeing the city spiral out of control. That’s when sergeant John O’Mara (Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Gosling) put together a small, secret crew of vigilante cops (Pena, Mackie, Patrick and Ribisi), working “off the books”, to bring down the boss. Stone plays a moll of Mickey’s who ends up switching her loyalties, while Nolte plays the chief of police. The brave cops, bending the law, try to infiltrate Cohen’s world and take it apart, starting a war that’s unlike anything even seen before on the streets of Los Angeles.
Gangster Squad is based on Paul Lieberman’s acclaimed collection of articles for the Los Angeles Times on the city police department’s attempts to take down Cohen. Cohen is also the inspiration behind LA Noir, an upcoming TV series. The gangster genre has some of the greatest films of all time in its fold. Cops versus crooks seems to be an extremely important part of the narrative, be it Raoul Walsh’s White Heat, Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and The Departed, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, or Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. In this film, the spot-on cast is in top form, helping create a slick cops-and-crooks caper. Fleischer seems to have succeeded in giving LA a down-and-dirty feel, lending Gangster Squad a gritty and real-life feel.
The film was originally scheduled to be released in September, but Warner Bros Pictures pushed back the release in the wake of a shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. The incident, which occurred during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, left 12 people dead. The studio also pulled a trailer, with a scene in which characters shoot submachine guns at moviegoers through the screen of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was later reported that the theatre scene would either be removed or placed in a different setting, since it is crucial to the film.
Fleischer, critically acclaimed for Zombieland and kind of castigated for 30 Minutes or Less, believes that every generation has grown up with their iconic gangster film. He’s hoping that this will be “the next one.” Will it? Wait and watch!