THERE is nothing like a dame and the seductress at the centre of Ruben Fleischer's stylish crime thriller sends temperatures soaring.
She beds two men on opposite sides of the law and ignites a powder keg of jealousy that threatens to raze 1940s Los Angeles to its corrupt foundations.
Based on the real-life battle for the streets of California’s most populated city, Gangster Squad conjures memories of The Untouchables with its tug of war between men who live by a badge and hoodlums who operate with twisted morality.
Disappointingly, Fleischer’s film lacks the finely detailed characters and tension of Brian De Palma’s Prohibition-era drama.
It also lacks a centrepiece sequence at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which depicted gunmen shooting indiscriminately at an audience from behind the screen.
In the wake of the shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado, film-makers chose to remove the set-piece and added a gunfight on the streets of Chinatown.
The bloodbath has gone but Fleischer’s picture doesn’t skimp on the brutality. In a wince-inducing opening, a henchman is tethered between two cars which screech off in opposite directions – pulling him in two.
The maniacal kingpin behind this bloodshed is one-time boxer Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).
Police chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) is powerless to stop the rise of the criminal fraternity so he approaches Sergeant John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to establish a covert team of officers, who are willing not only to bend the law but also to break it in order to crush Cohen.
Gangster Squad trades style over substance but Fleischer’s dramatisation of bullet-riddled history has its undeniable pleasures.