GANGSTER SQUAD directed by Ruben Fleischer, written by Will Beall from the book by Paul Lieberman, with Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn. A Warner Bros. release. 113 minutes. Opens Friday (January 11). See times. Read the Gangster Squad interviews with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Rating: NNN
Gangster Squad is really just a Los Angeles spin on The Untouchables, with Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen standing in for Robert De Niro's Al Capone, and Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Michael Peña and Giovanni Ribisi as the morally compromised warriors bent on smashing his criminal operations.
And as with The Untouchables, it's a lot more enjoyable once you realize you're watching an action cartoon that throws historical accuracy out the window about five minutes in. Brolin makes a fine bulldog hero, and Penn gobbles scenery as the gnarled Cohen, but Gosling gives a surprisingly subtle performance as a cynical cop hiding a heart of gold, and Emma Stone is charming as always as a good girl caught in the middle.
Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes Or Less) is no Brian De Palma, but he keeps the story moving and delivers a couple of decent set pieces, including an elaborate car chase and a tense showdown in Chinatown - the latter replacing a theatre shootout that was junked after last summer's massacre in Colorado.