Film Review – Gangster Squad


Crime film directed by Reuben Fleischer, depicting Los Angeles in 1949.  The film is based on the story of LAPD officers, who form a crew called, “the gangster squad unit”, attempting to keep Los Angeles safe from the mob king, Mickey Cohen.  This is made tricky as Cohen has corrupt policemen and politicians under his control, helping him to make profits from drugs, guns and prostitution.


The film stars an ensemble cast including Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone and Sean Penn.  With such a talented cast of actors, Gangster Squad was always going to be an enjoyable experience to watch and if awards were being given out on, “the best looking cast”, Gangster Squad would win easily.  Brolin and Gosling carry of their 1940s attire with ultimate style, while Emma Stone adds in tons of redhead sex appeal.  Unfortunately the good looks stop with Sean Penn, but there is more than enough in the mix anyway.


Yes, the film is predictable and slightly clichéd, but it does manage to keep its audience engaged for nearly two hours.  This is credit to the pacy screenplay and the mixture of action, comedy and romance.  One minute you’re gasping in shock while watching an intense shoot-out, and the next you are laughing out loud from a witty line.


Sean Penn’s performance was slightly disappointing.  I failed to be frightened by his aggressive performance as Mickey Cohen.  However this was easily made right by Gosling, whose charm, style and strangely high-pitched voice really made the film.  Without his presence, Gangster Squad would have been lacking.


One thing that should be mentioned is the film was VERY loud and much more violent than I expected for a 15 certificate, with a particularly brutal opening scene.  However, the clever additions of comedy and romance play a big part in reducing the effects of this.


All in all Gangster Squad is nothing revolutionary, and certainly doesn’t stick in the mind for long (as I soon found out whilst writing this review), but nevertheless a very enjoyable experience.

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