Gangster Squad Movie Review


Derek Popple, Features Editor

Fighting to rid Los Angeles of organized crime, the protagonists of Gangster Squad, which premiered on Jan. 11, work together to stop mob boss Mickey Cohen.

In the film, Sergeant John O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin, hand picks a team of cops to wage a secret vigilante war on Mickey Cohen’s gang. In O’Mara’s first speech to the team, he encourages them to leave their badges at home so they can break the law in order to bring justice to the city.

Following the police chief’s secret orders, the squad aims to not only kill Cohen, but to decimate his operations in order to ensure that no gangster will ever control Los Angeles again.

Gangster Squad has a loaded cast with actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling fighting against Cohen who was played by Sean Penn. In addition, the smaller actors who made up the rest of the team played very good supporting roles that contributed to the quality of the film.

All actors played their parts well, but Gosling and Penn were especially compelling. Penn was cold and ruthless as he ruled Los Angeles with an iron fist. Gosling did not impress me until I saw his unparalleled emotion in the scene when he witnesses the killing of a young boy, his impetus for joining the squad.

The cinematography of the film was excellent, utility a mix of moving steadicam shots and fixed shots that all worked to display Los Angeles in 1949. One of the best shots of the film used a steadicam to dip and weave through the crowd, all while following Jerry Wooters, played by Ryan Gosling.

The Director of Photography also included slow motion footage of Penn boxing and guns firing that resulted in beautiful, artistic shots.

Scenes revealing the gruesome mob murders earned the film it’s R rating. One scene depicted a man being torn in half by two cars before being fed to the wolves, all as a display of power by the mob boss.

All in all, the plot kept my attention and left me with a feeling of suspense that drew me into the film. Both the acting and the cinematography were excellent, backing up the film’s well-written storyline.

Although it did not inspire deep thought after the film, Gangster Squad is quality entertainment that demands one, if not several viewings. I give the film four out of five stars for its great cast, plot and cinematography.

Everyone should see this film as it is well worth the time.