Gangster Squad is a big-budget film about the organized crime that nearly brought Los Angeles to a standstill in 1949. It’s half-fiction, half-fact and relies heavily on a sense of nostalgia with many long shots of the cityscape filling out the frame, and plenty of exterior scenes cloaked in a golden hue that is ironically in direct contrast with the somber theme.
Sean Penn plays Mickey Cohen, the ambitious, ruthless overlord and former boxer who rules over the gangsters, policemen and drug trade. Cohen was a real guy, and the vague outlines of his character are in line with the actual Cohen, whose underworld operations in the City of Angels is so terrifying most of the honest policemen who remain are too scared to take him on.
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