Gangster Squad (2013) Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Starring: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. IMDB says: “A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.”

Set in the seductive 1940’s LA, the glamour of the locale is quickly interrupted by a gory display made possible by the city’s most violent and dangerous criminal, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn.) The movie goes on to constantly balance these opposite spectrums, shifting between the alluring LA lifestyle and the constant fear associated with keeping that status quo. A group of off the record detectives sent to take down Cohen’s organization quickly become the guys you are absolutely rooting for to get the job done. Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) works the best when he gets right in the thick of it, honing in on a blend of brutal violence and deserved comedy.

The movie hits all the right notes of what makes a great ensemble piece. The cast is terrific, featuring powerhouse leads like Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and Baby Goose, as well as a league of brilliant supporting actors you are always looking to see more of (Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, and Robert Patrick.) The only turd in the punch bowl is Emma Stone who, despite giving a solid performance, just seems a little too young for the rest of the crowd. In any event, it was a dream cast for a tale like this one and everyone pulls their weight and looks like they are having a blast doing it. Their enjoyment translates off the screen and into the audience, causing moments of glee and laughter as we follow the good vs. evil story.

The movie plays well as a pulpy crime story. The over the top villain Mickey Cohen makes you nervous that a sadistic, power-hungry man like him once existed, and thankful for the cops and non-cops brought in to help take him out. Gosling and Stone share one of the romantic subplots that isn’t the most exciting thing in the film, but becomes more important to the plot as the movie progresses. Brolin’s character of the hot-headed detective is reminiscent of Russel Crowe’s character in LA Confidential (a superior film, but not exactly striving for the same goals either.)

Overall, Gangster Squad is a film that gets the job done. It’s a little light in the drama department, but shows off a really talented cast in a very entertaining film. Audiences are unlikely to be disappointed by anything major here and might even have a few surprises thrown at them along the way.


Gangster Squad is out in theaters nationwide January 11th.

11 thoughts on “Review! Gangster Squad

  1. The cast is great. I’m really looking forward to checking this one out. So far the reviews seem to be fairly consistent in that the movie is good but kind of braindead.

  2. I’ve heard mixed things about this film. For some it is definitely the first major disappointment of 2013. Others reviews I’ve read seem to suggest it has a number of flaws but if you can look past them it is an exciting ride. I think I’ll my brain at the door for this one…I might enjoy it more. Thanks for the review! 🙂

    • Yeah, there has been a lot of negative criticism being hurled it’s way. I’m not saying none of it is valid, but I don’t think the goal of the film was to be LA Confidential II. I think the hype machine was too high.

      • It has been quite harsh. The first time I saw it I could barely sit through the movie and I wrote a couple of not-so-good things about it. But I ended up having to see it again later on and I kind of re-evaluated the intentions of the movie. I guess it did alright.

  3. Pingback: LAMBScores: Maya's Gangster Squad Haunts Bin Laden | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *