February brings a good gift for Kenyan action lovers. Gangster Squad, one of the most anticipated action movies this year, opens in theatres locally this weekend.
Released worldwide on January 11, the movie is directed by Ruben Fleischer, director of the 2009 movie Zombie Land and the 2011 action comedy 30 Minutes or Less.
The films plot is based in Los Angeles in the late 40’s shortly after the World War II. Mickey Cohen-played by the award winning and former husband of Madonna, Sean Penn, is the villain of the town.
Having corrupted most of the law enforcement offices in the city, the greedy and blood-hungry Mickey deals in drugs, prostitution, illegal gambling and even lower crimes expressed best in his loosely quoted line “Every good thing must eventually be burned down for insurance money”
Few people have the guts to stand up to Mickey owing to his connections and brutal way of dealing with his enemies. Sergeant John O’Mara is not one of them. Played by Josh Brolin, the sergeant gets involved with the gangster after he forces his way into one of Micky’s establishment to save a young woman from rape.
He fights and arrests about half a dozen of Mickey’s men but they are later let out by his police boss, and killed by Mickey.
Impressed by his one man show, the chief of police Bill Parker appoints sergeant O’Mara to create a team and cripple Mickey’s business operations. Killing him, he argues, would simply encourage other crooks to take over from where he left but crippling his business would drive him out of the city.
The sergeant’s pregnant wife Connie is initially against it. However, she effectively aids him in selecting a suitable team for the job.
He first recruits Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), a tough young policeman who has a personal hate for drugs and their dealers after losing his niece to heroin. The second to be recruited in the team is technology expert Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) who believes that people like Mickey Cohen should not be allowed to ruin children’s and his son’s future.
The team is also joined by legendary gun man and law keeper Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) and his groupie like partner Navidad Ramirez.
Declines the offer
Jerry Wooter, played by The Notebook star Ryan Gosling, is a friend to O’mara and first to be approached to join the squad. He is a womaniser and declines the offer claiming it wouldn’t amount to much. He later changes his mind after a young innocent friend of his, shoe shiner Pete, is killed in a Cohen-ordered fire exchange.
The team then sets about trying to achieve their goal of driving Cohen out of Los Angeles. The situation is however complicated as Jerry is infatuated and romantically involved with Cohen’s girlfriend Grace Faraday played by Emma stone who starred in the 2011 multiple award winning film The Help.
The film has had a good share of off-screen drama.
The movie’s trailer had to be removed from all platforms and some scenes of the movie re-shot after the mass shooting in a Colorado theatre on July 20 in which 12 people were killed and scores injured as they watched the movie Dark Knight Rises.
The cancelling of the trailer was because of a scene that involved gunmen shooting sub machine guns at movie goers through the screen.
The scene was a crucial part of the film and the team was forced to go back and redo some of the main action scenes in August 2012. Resulting from these changes, the films release date was pushed back from September 7, 2012 to January 11, 2013. The makers however came under fire for making the new scenes just as violent as the deleted ones.
Critics have not received the much anticipated film well. Rotten Tomatoes, the movie review website, gave the movie an average rating of 5 out of 10 based on votes from 172 voters. A statement on the website reads “Though it’s stylish and features a talented cast, Gangster Squad suffers from lacklustre writing, underdeveloped characters, and an excessive amount of violence.”