Gangster Squad Movie Review

Thinking about watching Gangster Squad?

Directed by Ruben Fleischer and directly inspired (pardon the pun) by famous crime movie director Brian De Palma (think The Untouchables) Gangster Squad takes on the same dynamic as the Chicago favorite, as we see a gang of law enforcement go off the grid to battle an infamous gangster on their own terms. 

Gangster Squad Movie Review

Gangster Squad is set in LA and is full to the brim with action-packed scenes decorated with blood, violence and just about everything else that you might expect from a gangster movie.

But, despite the fact that Gangster Squad is no stranger to the “shock factor” the storyline itself does little to get the pulse racing.

Despite this, there is one crucial area that the movie does succeed in magnificently – and that’s in its villain.

Played by Sean Penn, the villain of the movie goes by the name of Mickey Cohen and translates impressively well on screen to the audience.

In one scene, we see Penn (with a prosthetic beak) stand directly in front of the famous Hollywood sign while commanding his dogs to attack the remains of a man he has just killed.

One thing is for sure, if you’re looking for gore – you’ve certainly got it with Gangster Squad.

The good guys of the movie aren’t displayed in such detail, and this is one of the main shortcomings of this gangster movie. Josh Brolin plays ex-soldier turned cop John O’Mara, and is the main character for putting the gang together.

Blending charm with a wholesome energy, John fits the bill as the “hero”, but Brolin seems to be too confined by this label placed upon his character.

Things loosen up a little bit in his crew that he creates, though. We see Michael Pena play Robert Patrick, a mustache-donning sharp shooter and Giovanni Ribisi play a serious and reserved surveillance expert.

As for Anthony Mackie, he rounds up the tail of the crew and is seemingly just along for the ride.

The main selling point of the movie is Ryan Gosling, who does a good job of stealing focus, no surprise there) in the majority of his scenes – especially those that include his love interest played by none other than Emma Stone.

The chemistry between the two is natural, and captures desire, lust and everything in between.

Just like with every other crime/gangster film you can imagine, this film is action packed and far from subtle.

Every other scene there seems to be a fight breaking out, a glass of whiskey being poured or a brooding tension of lingering danger – which makes perfect sense when you remember that there’s an angry gangster on the loose for the majority of the film.

Gangster Squad is supposed to be a movie that captures crime history, but it all too often comes across as a comical mock-up of the real deal. 

Nonetheless, Fleischer (who started out his career directing Zombieland) is able to create just enough visual allure and style to ensure that this movie is able to stand on its own two feet.

While it might not be the best movie ever made, there’s plenty of awesome action-packed sequences that put you on the edge of your seat, and temperature raising chemistry shared between Gosling and Stone to help you overlook some of the areas that this movie falls short. 

Gangster Squad Movie: Our Verdict

All in all? Gangster Squad is a great movie to watch if you’re in the mood for some entertainment.

Sure, while it might not necessarily be the best gangster movie out there, Gangster Squad is a lot of fun and is full to the brim with great writing, plenty of banter and lots of action. 

Not only that, but Gangster Squad has a whole lineup of likable stars in their roster, which makes it a whole lot easier to overlook the seemingly bad reputation that this movie has gained since its release back in 2013.

Still, it needs to be said that while watching this movie, there does seem to be a slight lingering feeling that the director opted to play it safe.

Directed by Rben Fleischer, you’d expect to be met with action, risks and plenty of dynamic – but Gangster Squad seems to all too often fall short in these areas.

Nonetheless, Gangster Squad is easy to watch, very funny in places and does seem to capture the main elements of a traditionally classic gangster movie.

If you’re looking for some entertainment to watch at the end of a long day, Gangster Squad might be just what you’re looking for. If you’re a crime genre aur gangster movie connoisseur, Gangster Squad might not get your seal of approval.

If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘Let’s Be Cops Movie Review‘.

Max Roberts