Gangster Squad ***

Running Time: 113 mins Certificate: 15

Synopsis A group of police officers in post-war Los Angeles get together to take down Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), the gangster that dominates the city.

The film begins in Los Angeles, four years after the end of World War 2. In the first scene, we are introduced to John O’Mara, a police seargant on a mission to destroy the local mafia boss. At first, his actions are opposed by his boss. However he is soon called upon by Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) to oversee Mickey Cohen’s downfall.

While there are some good action scenes in the film, it lacks story. The title and general plot do suggest violence is a big part of the story, however there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on apart from shooting and the rather cringe worthy sub plot involving smooth talking cop Jerry (Ryan Gosling) and the mobster’s “etiquette coach” Grace (Emma Stone).

In terms of acting, Sean Penn’s is probably the best performance. Although he does not look like the real Mickey Cohen, he adopts the mannerisms of a cold and ruthless gangster and is believable in the role. Despite only having a small role in the film, Nick Nolte also performs well. Unfortunately the rest of the cast are somewhat disappointing. With an all star cast including Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, the viewer would expect better performances. However Brolin’s character comes across as rather wooden and emotionless while Gosling’s appears to be nothing more than a token womaniser.

As ‘Gangster Squad’ is based on a true story, as a viewer it would be interesting to learn more about how authentic the film actually is. The accuracy of events is questionable, particularly as the film progresses. Towards the end there is a rather ludicrous scene that makes the film lose most of its credibility.

Overall ‘Gangster Squad’ is watchable but disappointing. Although the idea had the potential to be a good movie, the lack of story and mediocre performances let it down.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan



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