Based on the cast alone, this movie was creeping up our "must see" list. Now that the official synopsis has been released...it's crept up another rung or two.
The period drama "Gangster Squad" is a bit of a departure for director Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland," "30 Minutes or Less"), but the pieces are in place for this to potentially rival "L.A. Confidential" in the pantheon of west coast gangsta pics.
From an official Warner Bros. release:
U.S. & World
Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and—if he has his way—every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.
Shooting entirely in and around Los Angeles, including in many of the actual locations featured in the story, “The Gangster Squad” is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time. The screenplay is by Will Beall (TV’s “Castle”), based on Paul Lieberman’s series of articles entitled “Tales From the Gangster Squad.” The film is being produced by Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes”), Kevin McCormick (upcoming “The Lucky One”) and Michael Tadross (“Arthur”).
“The Gangster Squad” stars Penn as real-life mobster Mickey Cohen; Brolin and Gosling as the LAPD’s Sgt. John O’Mara and Jerry Wooters; and Stone as Grace Faraday, Cohen’s moll and the object of Wooters’ attention.
The movie also stars Robert Patrick (“Flags of Our Fathers”) as Officer Max Kennard, a deadly cop who patrols the Olvera Street beat; Michael Peña (“Battle Los Angeles”) as Kennard’s over-eager sidekick, Navidad Ramirez; Giovanni Ribisi (“Avatar”) as the force’s Conway Keeler, an electronics expert who takes as much pleasure in fixing his son’s bike as he does tinkering with experimental, military-grade equipment; and Anthony Mackie (“The Adjustment Bureau”) as Coleman Harris, a switchblade-wielding cop who proudly patrols one of the most crime-ridden areas of the city.
The phrase "colorful retelling" seems to hint that Fleischer isn't about to go completely stone-faced for this movie, and that could be a good thing. And there's no denying that, in Brolin, Gosling, and Stone, he has three leads currently at the top of their game. It's too bad Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") had to pull ouf of the project, but we understand. It would have dangerously unbalanced the levels of awesome.
RogueTV snagged Fleischer and Michael Peña at Comic Con to get their thoughts. And whattya know? They're pretty stoked about it, too.