Gangster SquadHD Closed Captioning
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Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town . . . that is, until a crew of LAPD officers led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) wage war on his empire. Gangster Squad also stars Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, and Robert Patrick.
- Ruben Fleischer
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 193
- Fresh: 61
- Rotten: 132
- Average Rating: 5.0/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: A bullet-riddled bloodbath with an all-star cast, Gangster Squad is a lurid and ludicrous Mob thriller that glorifies a gangland lifestyle.
Rotten: Gangster Squad looks the part, but it's so superficial it practically evaporates before our eyes.
Rotten: Some of the clothes and makeup feel as glossy as paint, but, those aside, we seem to browsing through a display of secondhand goods.
Rotten: A triumph of production design but a pretty dull kill-'em-up otherwise.
A STYLISH BUT OVER-THE-TOP GANGSTER FILM
When I first saw the trailers for "Gangster Squad," I was immediately overtaken by the star-studded cast, gorgeous art-deco set designs, and violent clips of shoot-em'-up gun battles. With all those fantastic elements in place, it looked and felt like the kind of hyper-stylized noir film that promised to not only be briskly entertaining, but highly involving as well. Unfortunately, that didn't quite end up being the case here. While the flick does offer up some glossy visuals and a tense atmospheric tone, it never once bothers exploring the historical complexities of its real-life story, instead opting for an odd comic book-style approach that's effectively engaging but somewhat unsatisfying. Still, this distracting use of style over substance is at least successful in producing a rollicking crime thriller that's often a lot of fun to watch, packed to the brim with plenty of gifted actors who gleefully chomp through the scenery. The setting of this film is Los Angeles in 1949, where the notorious gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is planning to launch a big Chicago-style mob takeover of the city. The police chief (Nick Nolte) is determined to stop him, but feels surrounded by corruption, so he hires straight-aarow detective John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) to put together a top-secret squad of LAPD officers that will operate off the books to stop Cohen, whatever it takes. John's pregnant wife (Mireille Enos) isn't thrilled at all by this, but she helps him select his team: techie Conway (Giovanni Ribisi), gunslinger Max (Robert Patrick), hotshot Coleman (Anthony Mackie), and quick-learning rookie Navidad (Michael Peña). And of course, there's the pretty-boy detective Jerry (Ryan Gosling), who courts danger by launching a fling with Cohen's seductive yet mysterious moll Grace (Emma Stone). Understandably, their task doesn't go so smoothly. Billed as the untold story of what really happened, this flick actually ignores quite a few key facts while indulging in implausible plotting and overly colorful characterizations. In other words, it's next to impossible to consistently believe what we're watching, which eliminates all of the relevance and resonance that could have filled this complex tale of police corruption, out-of-control capitalism, and the use of illegal methods to do the right thing. Instead, this movie is all shiny surfaces with flashy production design, too-immaculate costumes and haircuts, and a story that reduces an elaborate situation into a simplistic action flick narrative. But like I said earlier, there's a lot of fun to be had along the way, from the rip-roaring action scenes (such as a stylish, fast-paced car chase in the middle of the night) to the fiery chemistry Stone and Gosling share so effortlessly. And Penn hams it up marvelously as the outrageously over-the-top Cohen, screaming absurd lines of dialogue with a wacky Bostonian accent. As for Brolin, he's probably the only actor in the flick who doesn't overplay his role and genuinely takes it seriously. It does make the rest of the performances feel slightly unbalanced as a result, but he still nails the character, making him an exceptionally bold protagonist worth rooting for from start to finish. And despite their kinetic on-screen romance, Gosling and Stone don't quite work as well on their own in the film (although they both easily look and sound the part). The other actors in the high-profile cast (especially Nolte and Ribisi) all do a fine if not perfectly respectable job with their supporting roles, but it's not the acting that's the real issue here. It's the script, which suffers from lackluster writing, absurd plot twists, and a bevy of underdeveloped characters. That is to say the movie basically borrows material from older gangland classics without ever bringing anything truly new to the table, aside from a ton of excessively gory shootout scenes that may leave most viewers wincing more than a few times. Still, despite all its severe drawbacks, I can't deny that I had a fun time with "Gangster Squad." Sure, the story is overly simplistic, the violence is obsessively bloody to the max, and the performances are particularly uneven, but you know what? It kept my interest the whole way through, and as an action fan, that's good enough for me. Anyway, if you're the kind of filmgoer who enjoys nostalgic art-deco visuals, over-the-top gunfire, and a whole lot of cartoonish dialogue, then this flick's pretty much got you covered. It may not be Oscar-worthy, but it's worth a solid rent for those looking for gleefully mindless, highly stylized gangster action.
Great movie, screw stupid ppl who hate :D
I have seen the actors in this movie make daring, risky, deep, and remarkable films. I was pretty dumbfounded when I saw the film, because it is purely second rate in the script, story, and dialogue. within 20 minutes of the opening scenes I figured out that this was an ATM stop for Penn and company, a chance to hang out with some friends and take home some big dollars. Which is fine- for them. But this film is hacked together with stylized shots and tropes and cliches and really nothing else. If all you want is style, and flat, predictable dialogue doesn't offend you, then you will like this movie.
If you want more than just flashy scene to flashy scene, I'd skip it, and I wish I had.