Review: Gangster Squad

In 1949, a ruthless East Coast gangster has the city of Angels in the palm of his hand, lacing its lifeblood with crime, violence and vice, and the only thing standing in his way is a small squad of undercover Los Angeles cops known as the “Gangster Squad.”

Josh Brolin (right) and Sean Penn (left) are at war for 1949 Los Angeles in “Gangster Squad”

Director Ruben Fleischer’s (“Zombieland”) period piece stars Academy Award winner Sean Penn (“Mystic River,” “Milk”) as Mickey Cohen, a power-hungry gangster who sees Los Angeles as thriving criminal enterprise with promise in the areas of illegal betting, drugs, and prostitution and himself as the sole executive worthy of running this enterprise.

Cohen practically has the entire Los Angeles law enforcement in his pocket except for LAPD Chief Bill Parker, played by Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte (“The Prince of Tides,” “Affliction”), because he is the only high-level lawman who sees that Los Angeles needs to be liberated from the tyranny of Cohen and his criminal influence.

Parker realizes that there is only one cop who shares his perception of Los Angeles and that is Sergeant John O’Mara, played by Academy Award nominee Josh Brolin (“Milk,” “No Country for Old Men”), a WWII veteran and expert in guerrilla tactics turned cop, who believes that Los Angeles is heading down the wrong path and something needs to be done.

This isn’t a crime wave. It’s enemy occupation. I need you to wage war against Mickey Cohen.“-Nick Nolte as Chief Parker.

At the behest of Chief Parker, O’Mara is given permission to assemble a small squad to dismantle Cohen’s criminal enterprise but in order to do so O’Mara and his squad must work outside the law.

O’Mara’s squad includes Sgt. Jerry Wooters, played by Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling (“Half Nelson,” “Blue Valentine”), Coleman Harris, played by Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”), Navidad Ramirez, played by Michael Peña (“End of Watch”), Conway Keeler, played by Giovanni Ribisi (“Saving Private Ryan”) and Max Kennard, played by Robert Patrick (“Walk the Line”).

Cohen’s operations are now on notice as the Gangster Squad seek to completely destroy Cohen’s franchises throughout the city but Cohen intends to fight back and fight back hard. The future of Los Angeles will either be in the hands of the law or the corrupt.

A cop that’s not for sale is like a dog with rabies. You just gotta put ’em down.“-Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen.

Ruben Fleischer has delivered a slick gangster flick in “Gangster Squad.” It isn’t perfect but it is mildly entertaining.

The film reads nicely, is visually appealing and is ripe with action and drama but it isn’t entirely overwhelming but it is quite satisfying.

Emma Stone (left) and Ryan Gosling (right) just ooze on-screen chemistry in “Gangster Squad”)

The cast of the film is decent. Every actor performed their roles well but what is disappointing is that no one truly stood out from a crowd. If there is a disappointment in the ensemble it would probably be Emma Stone’s (“Easy A,” “The Amazing Spider-Man”) Grace Farraday; she is solely a pretty face with nothing significant to contribute until the end of the film.

The screenplay from Will Beall (“Logan’s Run”) is fairly average in allowing the story to transpire but the action in the film is what makes the movie pop and worth seeing.

“Gangster Squad” has very stylish action but that is pretty much it. The acting, directing and the writing of the movie is decent and entertaining but not really special to remember.

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