By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com July 7, 2011 at 1:23AM
Warner Bros. and "Zombieland" director Ruben Fleischer seem to be on a mission to make every other movie in the next year or two look bad with their period actioner "Gangster Squad." A hotly-tipped, Black List-ed script, by former L.A.P.D. cop Will Beall, based on a series of articles in the L.A. Times, the 1940s-set tale has been a priority at the studio for most of the year, and has been assembling one of the most promising casts in recent memory.
Sean Penn is taking a rare big-budget gig to play legendary mobster Mickey Cohen, the target of the eponymous taskforce, with Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin as its leaders, Jerry Wooters and John O'Mara, while Anthony Mackie, Bryan Cranston and Michael Peña make up their team respectively playing Rocky Washington, the so-called 'Sherrif of Central Avenue,' the gun-toting Texan Max Kennard, and Hispanic detective Navidad Ramirez, and they've now got one final teammate along for the ride, as Deadline reports that Giovanni Ribisi has joined the cast as well.
Ribisi's mostly been quiet since playing the villain in the biggest-grossing film of all time, "Avatar," but he's got several films on the way, opposite Johnny Depp in "The Rum Diary," and two films with Mark Wahlberg, the thriller "Contraband" and Seth MacFarlane's "Ted," which is currently shooting. The actor will play Conway Keeler, a happily married wire-tapping expert who's been busted down to traffic for listening in on the wrong conversations, who's recruited to the gangster squad by Wooters and O'Mara.
It's yet another terrific actor in the ensemble, and there's more to come -- the film's got a large cast, and at least two female leads (people like Teresa Palmer and Maggie Grace have been auditioning) and several villainous roles are yet to be cast. All in all, this is becoming one of our most anticipated films of the next few years -- Beall's script is terrific, finding the midpoint between "The Untouchables" and "L.A. Confidential," while Fleischer's one of the most promising directors around, and we look forward to seeing what he can do with more serious material. Filming gets underway later this summer, before Gosling moves on to Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" this fall.