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Gangster Squad Review
By Darrin Jones / January 11

Ingredients: If you like the action of the Untouchables, the personality of Dick Tracy (1990), and the cinematography of L. A. Confidential, you will like this movie.

In a month filled with Oscar talk, Gangster Squad seems sorely out of place. While it could easily have been Oscar bait, a mob crime drama that could have rivaled Goodfellas, instead it's an over-the-top gangster flick with plenty of blazing tommy-guns and funny one-liners. Crime boss, Micky Cohen (as played by Sean Penn) is on the verge of taking over Los Angeles in 1949. The only thing standing in his way is a handful of hard-nosed coppers led by Sergeant John O’Mara (Josh Brolin). The motley crew skirts the law to take down Cohen and save Los Angeles from drugs, corruption, and violence. ‘Cause that doesn’t happen anymore, right?

The movie focuses more on action than characters with some hard-hitting scenes of gunfights and car chases, without shying away from gore. Along with the violence, there is a gratuitous use of close ups and awkward slow motion scenes. Overall though the action is fun, fast-paced, and just what modern audiences are use to. Its also pretty interesting to see Sean Penn channel his inner Joe Peschi in his portrayal of Cohen’s megalomania.

Ryan Gosling‘s character,
Sergeant Jerry Wooters, and Josh Brolin’s Sergeant O’Mara have a good buddy cop chemistry. Wooters’ playboy attitude was a great balance to O’Mara’s stoicism. (Although I don’t know if Brolin has another facial expression besides stoicism.) Overall, the subtle witty writing makes up for any of the corny moments and gives the film a very Tarantino-esque feel at times.

Gangster Squad features a great supporting cast. The two primary dames, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) and Connie O’Mara (Merielle Enos) were great depictions of strong women. While Stone’s portrayal of a good-girl-gone-bad was clearly different from Enos’ dedicated intelligent housewife, you walk away with a great deal of respect for both of them. And although the diverse collection of the ragtag gangster squad may appear contrived, it really works.

While this movie doesn’t have the heart and soul of The Godfather, for sheer entertainment, it’s worth the value. If you’re a fan of Penn’s overacting, Gosling’s swagger, and you like seeing wiseguys and coppers trading
bullets on glamorous Hollywood streets, then I recommend this movie. And it's a good thing too because after reviewing Texas Chainsaw 3D, I wasn’t sure what January was going to hold for me, but with seeing Gangster Squad the month is starting to look promising.


  1. Action movie ,first half ok and second half good action .one time watch.DIALOGUE when you loose everything and win war then you are hero.when you loose everything and loose war then you are fool

  2. Yeah, there were some corny lines from Josh Brolin. He was definitely doing his best 'Captain America' audition.