Gangster Squad: Stylish but the based on a true story unravels by the end

By Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJanuary 11, 2013 

Flash back to the 1950s. Gangster Mickey Cohen is terrorizing the underworld of Los Angeles and is quickly moving to establish mob control over the whole city. He must be stopped. That's the job of the Gangster Squad.

Ripping pages out of oldie but goodie flicks like The Untouchables, Goodfellas and The Godfather, and then not successfully doing them with plot or dialogue, Gangster Squad is loosely based on a book from Paul Lieberman about the true story of Cohen's undoing.

Very loosely.

Sean Penn does Cohen, and Emma Stone is his girlfriend. Josh Brolin plays the cop assigned to a secret squad out to stop Cohen and bring him to justice. He recruits a group of misfits played by actors Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena and Giovanni Ribisi. Nick Nolte is cast as the police chief.

The acting is superb. You can't top the skills of Brolin, Gosling, Penn, Stone and their skilled co-stars.

Early on, director Ruben Fleischer's (Zombieland) film is stylish, fast-moving and sometimes fun. As the plot plods on, the story grows more outlandish and predictable and strays farther from the actual, and more fascinating truth.

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Stars: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena and Giovanni Ribisi

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated R for violence, language, nudity and mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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