It seems, though, that working on this larger canvass – bigger cast, budget etc – is a natural fit as he fashions an enjoyable, even if forgettable, action blast.

So the plot: Los Angeles, 1949, and Chicago mobster Mickey Cohen (prosthetic-aided Penn in full-on grizzly, shouty mode) is looking to take over the City of Angels.

War vet Sergeant O’Mara (duty-bound yet ass-kicking Brolin) and a band of off-the-clock cops, the titular squad, are on a mission to stop him.

Despite its setting and time period, this is not Chinatown (even though a cheeky camera move sweeps over a sign in the city’s said district).

It’s more Warren Beatty’s 1990 Dick Tracy, as the grim and grimy setting is turned into a comic book styled action-fest – the bullets fly, the bad guys are ugly and the good guys heroic; a true heroes-versus-villains tale.

There are moments that look to add depth, the war heroes back from the frontline who can’t stop fighting, and the brains of the squad, Giovani Ribisi’s tech-head Keeler, wondering where to draw the line between being a cop and goon; but it hardly scratches the surface. 

Just as well the surface is so glittering with bold, brash production, sweeping jazz sounds, and a script crackling with spiky dialogue that never takes itself too seriously (a scene where a failed thug meets a drill-kill end immediately cuts to a raw burger pattie on a barbecue).

It’s frothy and silly but hugely entertaining. 

Good for: A good old-fashioned and indulgent bit of escapism

Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone | 15 | 112mins | Out now