THE GANGSTER SQUAD by Will Beall was another script from the Black List that caught my attention when I first heard about it.
“Amidst the corruption and chaos of 1940s Los Angeles, the LAPD’s Gangster Squad works to keep the East Coast Mafia out of the city.”
Oh, but it’s so much more than that.
The whole time period screams out “pulp!” and “noir!”, and the script does a phenomenal job of really putting you into that kind of mood.
Notorious crime boss Mickey Cohen has a firm grip over the City of Angels. LAPD Sgt John O’Mara is called upon by his superiors to put together a secret team to keep hitting at Cohen until that grip is broken.
Saying anything else would venture into spoiler territory. So moving past what happens, and into how it’s presented…
The writing really sizzles. Crisp, sharp staccato phrases. Descriptions that burn an image into your mind’s eye and stay there. Even the writing about such mundane things such as what a key location looks like, or what a particular kind of machine gun looks like, really jumps off the page.
Beall, a former LAPD officer himself, really puts a genuine hard-boiled spin on what you see on the page; all 136 of them zip by. Literally a page-turner I couldn’t and didn’t want to stop reading.
This is a story rich and teeming with an abundance of diverse characters. I found it pretty easy to follow along, keeping track of who was who, and what they were all about. Even though there are several subplots, almost one per major AND supporting character, the overall story was fast-paced and never boring.
Beall has been hired to write the reboot of the LETHAL WEAPON franchise, apparently from his pitch. I think this is a waste of his talents. Besides, is it really necessary? The opportunity is right there for Beall to do something new and original.
Based on this script, I’d rather see something new than a retread of something from 20 years ago. But that’s just me.