Gangster Squad


A starry cast of cops and mobsters

"This isn't Chicago", yells Sean Penn. “It’s the Wild fucking West!”

The first five minutes of Gangster Squad more than proves this, as a luckless thug chained between two vehicles is torn in half.

Another gets his fingers sliced off in an elevator fight. And a room full of goons get punched, stabbed, beaten and shot.

So far, so good then; a mobster movie without mayhem is as pointless as the proverbial blunt pencil.

But after this breathless opening, Ruben Fleischer’s 1949-set cops vs crims tale never leaves much of a lasting impression – unless, that is, we’re talking decibels.

A prosthetics padded Penn barely stops screaming, making his shouty turn in Mystic River a silent movie by comparison.

Couple that with slugs, explosions and jazz, and here’s an early contender for loudest film of 2013.

Littering the landscape with more corpses than Fleischer’s 2009 zom-com Zombieland, Gangster Squad centres on “the war for the soul of Los Angeles”, as Nick Nolte’s Chief of Police tags it.

In the blue corner is Josh Brolin’s “honest cop” John O’Mara who, when not tending to his pregnant wife at home, is rescuing damsels in distress at work.

In the red corner is Penn’s real-life mobster Mickey Cohen – heroin dealer, racketeer and all-round bad egg.

In a bid to bring him down, O’Mara assembles his squad, from Anthony Mackie’s switchblade-wielding Harlem cop to Giovanni Ribisi’s ’tech-head (“the brains to balance the brawn”).

Others on board include Robert Patrick’s sharp-shooting old-timer, Michael Peña’s rookie and, after initially showing reluctance, Ryan Gosling’s slacker-cop Sgt. Jerry Wooters, who – just for added spice – takes a shine to Cohen’s moll Grace Faraday (Emma Stone).

On the surface at least, there’s much to admire, from the classy cast, immaculate production and costume design to a script that stings with salty one-liners (“He’s got a smart mouth but he’s dumb where it counts”).

But amid the bullet blizzards, it’s hard to feel much for any of the characters; there are times when the gangster-grotesques in Warren Beatty’s comic-book mob movie Dick Tracy feel more three-dimensional.

It doesn’t help that Stone and Gosling get less room to re-capture the chemistry that fizzed so memorably in Crazy Stupid Love.

Only a grizzled Brolin really packs a punch – in all senses.


Typified by Penn’s blustery performance, Gangster Squad is sleek, stylish but superficial. Easy on the eye, even easier on the brain, it doesn’t last long in the memory.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • AlfredsDream098

      Jan 7th 2013, 7:20

      Sean Penn is the best thing in it then? What a persuasion to go see it.

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    • Ali1748

      Jan 7th 2013, 16:42

      Say what you will about Sean Penn the person but his actings skills are incredible.

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    • jayfkay

      Jan 8th 2013, 17:00

      I dont get Penn, never did, never will. His acting is always acting too much.

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    • Martiom

      Jan 18th 2013, 2:45

      I am the daughter of John O'Mara, the Los Angeles police officer currently portrayed in the Hollywood $75MM movie, Gangster Squad, set in 1949. However, the movie bears absolutely no resemblance to the true story of my Dad and his near obsession with the mobster Mickey Cohen. Paul Lieberman's recently released book tells the story much more accurately. My Dad and his colleagues tracked Cohen through dogged police work, courage, nerve and intelligence. In the movie, my Dad is shown firing away in numerous bloody shootouts, killing and maiming. In real life, my Dad shot his gun once in twenty years. The movie's release gives us an ideal forum to discuss our cultural obsession with gun violence in film. There was a true story, a great story, where the cops outsmarted the bad guys, but the truth was largely ignored by the script in favor of endless gunfire and sadistic murder and gives us clear, hard evidence of the movie industry maximizing violence to garner ticket sales.

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    • moviefreak

      Jan 22nd 2013, 17:06

      you can already watch it online!!!!! I found The Last Stand movie online here in HD www.yebako. com

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    • NickyC

      Jan 25th 2013, 16:52

      I swear TF, I am giving you one more chance not to put spoilers or scene details in your reviews. You're fast becoming untrustworthy. If you can't review a movie without detailing it then stop reviewing movies. Tell us what the film is like and whether we will enjoy it. Don't f*cking tell us what f*cking happens! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I got two lines in and had to abandon this review so I could go to another site and read theirs. Next time, I'll just go somewhere else.

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    • xandernx13

      Jan 28th 2013, 22:26

      This movie was okay, it pretty much reminded me of The Untouchables. I thought it was stupid though in the first half of this movie Ryan Gosling talks with this high pitched voice and then in the second half he talks normally. My mom fell asleep through this movie if that gives you an indication of how good it is.

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    • socialcareer

      Jan 31st 2013, 11:52

      Some people says its unbelievable , some who earned says its a wonderful opportunity to earn about $5500 in 1 month on website/internet, did you read the site

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