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Movie Review | Gangster Squad

 

Gangster SquadI had been excited to see Gangster Squad for quite a while now, not only because my boy Gosling is in it (ha), but because the ensemble cast and the movie itself looked great. The film ended up being a lot bloodier than I originally thought it would be, though I guess its “R” rating should have given me an indication of that, and it’s more of an ensemble movie than one focused on one main character, save for the main gangster, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), who definitely steals the show.

It’s Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and gangster Mickey Cohen, originally from Chicago, has started taking over the town. He’s connected with everyone, even the police, and it would be extremely hard to “take him down” – but police chief Parker (Nick Nolte) wants to do exactly that. He “hires” Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to put together what later becomes known as a “gangster squad” – all cops, none of whom will be wearing the badge on this particular mission – to cut Mickey off at the knees, and O’Mara knows that to do this, he must first destroy Mickey’s businesses. Things start to get ugly when Mickey figures out who comprises the squad, and goes after their friends and families.

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The squad consists of cops played by Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, and others, and they do well as an ensemble. I was hoping to see more screen time for Gosling, though he does have more time than the other squad members, but the stars of the show are Josh Brolin and Sean Penn. I was also surprised that the chemistry between Gosling and Emma Stone, as one of Mickey Cohen’s girls who is secretly dating Gosling’s character, was not better, since they were great together in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Sean Penn, however, is the gangster that absolutely steals the show – he gives it his all, and it comes through brilliantly on screen.

Yes, see this film. I loved all of the old cars and the ’40s atmosphere as well as the cast and plot. Gangster Squad is definitely one of those “fluffy” movies that you will enjoy and then might not think about day after seeing it, but it’s a great shoot-em-up mobster movie, and its almost 2-hour runtime goes by quickly. It definitely wasn’t as bloody as the recent Django Unchained, but it does have some parts here and there to avoid if you get queasy easily; there’s a scene where Cohen is torturing a man and they tie his arms to one car and legs to another, and then pull … you can probably figure out what happens to him, and it’s not pretty. Gangster Squad is ideal for those who like action or mob movies, though, and should garner much praise for its cast’s acting and its juicy plot.

Gangster Squad is currently in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 113 minutes.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

Liz is our regular movie reviewer and writes for her film blog (Yes/No Films) and book blog (Books I Think You Should Read), as well as Examiner.com and CBS Detroit. You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

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