Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena and Robert Patrick

b! Says: ****


Gangster Squad fires on all cylinders

2013 couldn't have started with a better bang than the sort 'Gangster Squad' offers. Armed with a delish cast and smart script, the movie fires on all cylinders and could well be one of the best movies you watch this year.

It's 1949 and the City of Angels could be nothing less. Los Angeles is ruled by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn, brilliant), a ruthless mob boss who won't let anyone come in the way of his plans for 'progress'. Sgt John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) stands out from among his colleagues, most of whom are being bribed to let the mafia run free. O'Mara catches the attention of Chief Parker (Nick Nolte), who is desperate to reclaim the city. Under his directions, O'Mara is sent out to recruit a gangster squad that will destroy Cohen's empire. The cops who make the cut are a motley crew selected by O'Mara's pregnant wife (Mireille Enos), who is desperate to see her husband come out of this mission alive. A ragtag bunch is finally assembled consisting of sharp shooter Kennard (Robert Patrick) and his Mexican apprentice (Michael Pena), tech whiz Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) and upright cop Washington (Anthony Mackie). The last addition to the group is Jerry Wooters, a smooth-talking, though disillusioned officer who's got his eye on the don's moll Grace (Emma Stone).

'Gangster Squad' is an entertaining guns & grit fest and only occasionally makes a sappy slip. The fist fights are as much fun as the gun battles and the raids play out like mini musicals. Penn, as the egoistic crime lord, has the amazing ability to say it all in some scenes with only a sneer. The love story on the side is also a treat, Stone and Gosling sharing more chemistry than she did with her real-life boyfriend in 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. Brolin's stone faced delivery suits his character perfectly (though we wonder what he'd ever do with a character that was required to come off as lovable). The weak links in the squad are Mackie (token black guy) and Patrick (over-the-top, caricaturish), but these are minor blips.

If a friend suggests you give 'Gangster Squad' a miss, put a gun to their head and march them off to the cinema. You won't regret it.