Often a popular movie will inspire other storylines to reach the silver screen, and it’s easy to see that director/writer Timothy Woodward Jr. was inspired by The Untouchables in making Gangster Land. From the punchy dialogue to its propulsive score, Gangster Land definitely takes a few pages from the Brian De Palma classic.
That being said, Gangster Land offers new insight into the genre, as we follow the life of Machine Gun Jack McGurn (Sean Faris, effective at being edgy), a former amateur boxer who becomes Al Capone’s (Milo Gibson) right hand man in 1920s Chicago. McGurn is best known as the orchestrator behind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and, since I’m not one to give away spoilers, the rest of McGurn’s life is also one for the history books.
The Sopranos vet Jamie-Lynn Sigler plays McGurn’s love interest and Peter Facinelli (Twilight) co-starring as Capone and McGurn’s nemesis “Bugs” Moran. A tip of the hat to Woodward Jr. for casting Don Harvey, who worked with De Palma in Casualties of War, as one of the detectives who tries to put McGurn back on the straight and narrow path (Jason Patric is the other cop assigned to clean up Chicago’s crime ridden streets).
The biggest surprise of Gangster Land is that Milo Gibson, son of Mel Gibson, holds his own as Al Capone, and his scenes with Faris simply crackle. Their friendship and mutual savagery is believable, and their chemistry, along with the joy of watching a solid ensemble go to work, make Gangster Land a highly entertaining watch. It may not have the cinematic mastery or production values of The Untouchables, but few films reach that mark anyway. Gangster Land has enough punches in its arsenal to survive more than a few rounds, and it’s great to see McGurn’s life given the cinematic treatment.
Gangster Land is now out on Blu-ray and DVD via Cinedigm.