Daily News header

Gangster Squad Film Review

By     get stories by email

Sean Penn Shines in Crime Saga about Legendary Mobster

Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) was born and raised in Brooklyn where he started out as a prizefighter before moving to Chicago during Prohibition to become an enforcer for Al Capone. In the Forties, he was sent by Meyer Lansky to Los Angeles to establish extortion, gambling, prostitution and loan shark operations on behalf of the Jewish Mafia.

Mickey gradually began to make inroads, which didn't sit well with LA Police Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) who was determined to prevent any crime syndicate from gaining a foothold in his city. But that would prove easier said than done since the vicious mobster had already succeeded in bribing and/or intimidating many cops, judges and powerful politicians.

gangster
Teaser poster. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Given the frightening degree of corruption, Parker decided that the only way to bring down Mickey was to behave just as ruthlessly. So, he asked one of his most fearless officers, Sergeant John O'Mara (Josh Brolin), to form a top secret team whose mission would be to enforce the law by breaking it.

For, the so-called Gangster Squad's mission was simply to enter each of Cohen's establishments anonymously in order to break kneecaps and generally trash the place. Of course, if any of O'Mara's goons were killed or captured, the Commissioner would have to disavow any knowledge of their actions.

Thus unfolds Gangster Squad, a stylized costume drama with far more charm than one would ordinarily expect to find in an old-fashioned shoot 'em up. Directed by Ruben Fleisher (Zombieland), the film is based on the clever Paul Lieberman best-seller of the same name.

The production was blessed with an A-list cast which includes Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick and Mireille Enos. Therefiore, there are no throwaway roles here, with even lesser characters benefitting from development as a consequence of veteran thespians putting their all into their performances.

As a result, you come to care not only about whether or not Mickey will ever be brought to justice, but about surprisingly-engaging subplots involving a lawman (Gosling) going gaga over the gangsta's moll (Stone), and about a pregnant wife's (Enos) worry about whether her gung-ho hubby's (Brolin) will live long enough to witness his baby's birth. Nevertheless, the front story does feature all the staples of the genre, from flashy Zoot suits to Tommy guns to street smart dialogue mixing slang and savoir faire in a manner reminiscent of Damon Runyon.

A high body-count showdown between rogue cops and the Kosher Nostra for the future of Los Angeles!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for profanity and graphic violence

Running time: 113 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers

To see a trailer for Gangster Squad:

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Dr. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4th, 1928. She overcame a traumatic childhood to blossom into a world-renowned poet, author, educator, actress, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist.
Chef, author, world traveler Anthony Bourdain is an outspoken trailblazer with unique insights talks about his life, career and Peabody and Emmy-winning TV-series, Parts Unknown.
Kam Williams interviews Gina the Dreamer about Beyond the Lights, a romance drama co-starring Gugu Mbata-Raw and Nate Parker.
Marion Cotillard, who is no stranger to tackling complex characters and complicated women in movies, most notably as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, plays Sandra in Two Days, One Night. An emotionally vulnerable blue collar worker in a plant determine
Stevie Nicks, older and ever bolder turned heads with Stevie's back-to-the-future, pre-technoid selfies at an opening exhibition in the Morrison Hotel Gallery, Manhattan.
Michael Pena, who first appeared in 'To Sir, with Love' and 'End of Watch' director David Ayer talk to Kam Williams about reuniting to collaborate on Fury.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site