• January 24, 2017

Mobsters in a moody miniseries

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 4:30 am

Nothing jolts American cinema as intensely as gangsters. It’s an intoxication that began in 1931 with “Little Caesar” and “The Public Enemy.” (The original “Scarface” would be in the group, too, but censorship squabbles kept it out of theaters for more than a year.)

TV has been similarly consumed with crime kingpins since “The Untouchables” in 1959. The appeal obviously is evergreen. NBC is currently developing a mini-series about Eliot Ness.

“Mob City,” on TNT, sets a new level of synchronicity: It uses the same setting and some of the same historical characters as “Gangster Squad,” which was in theaters earlier this year.

Jon Bernthal (“The Walking Dead”) stars as a former Marine sergeant, now an LAPD detective who is recruited as part of a departmental task force to stop gangsters like Mickey Cohen (Jeremy Luke) and Bugsy Siegel (Ed Burns).

It’s 1947. Tough guys wear hats like helmets and nylon-stockinged dames give new meaning to the word sultry. Everybody chain-smokes.

“Mob City,” a miniseries that spreads its six hours over three consecutive Wednesdays, has a distinguished cast, including Robert Knepper, Gregory Itzin, Milo Ventimiglia and Alexa Davalos. And its hyper-stylized noirish look is smashing. Cool music, too, from Mark Isham.

But the hard-boiled dialogue, which is supposed to evoke Raymond Chandler, instead sounds more like bad “Dragnet.” With one notable exception: Simon Pegg makes an odd guest appearance in the pilot and is rewarded with a ringing soliloquy worthy of Budd Schulberg.

The violence in “Mob City” is almost gleefully graphic, and the plot, about a blackmail case gone sideways, is a mess. What this project has, almost excessively, is mood. It should have traded in some of that rich ambience for a story that’s halfway involving.

I’ll watch every installment, but mostly to ogle those crazy vintage automobiles.

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

Day 1: On the ground in South Korea with Ironhorse soldiers
Posted: February 25, 2016

After 20 hours of travel, by plane and bus, I finally made it to Camp Casey, South Korea with the remainder of Fort Hood’s 1st Brigade Combat Team soldiers. For the next several days, I will be following the mission and daily lives of Ironhorse troopers as they begin a nine-month rotation in the land of the morning calm.

more »
Day 2 in South Korea: Snowflakes and readiness
Posted: February 25, 2016

Our second day in South Korea began early. But it was not as early as for some.

more »

Ft Hood Events

Military Videos