A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.
It's 1949 Los Angeles, and gangster Mickey Cohen has moved in, with the intention of controlling all criminal activity in the city. He has bought local judges and police, and no one is willing to cross him or testify against him. Everyone except Seargant John O'Mara, a former World War II soldier, whose goal is to settle with his family in a peaceful Los Angeles. Police Chief William Parker decides to form a special unit whose mission is to take down Cohen, and chooses O'Mara to lead the unit. O'Mara chooses 4 cops and asks another cop and vet, Jerry Wooters to join him but Wooters is not interested. But when he witnesses the murder of a young boy by Cohen's people, he joins them, and they decide to take apart Cohen's organization. Cohen wonders if a rival is going after him, but eventually he realizes it's the cops. Written by
Daryl Gates didn't join the LAPD until September 16th 1949 and didn't become Chief Parker's driver until many years later. See more »
Sgt. John O'Mara:
Every man carries a badge. Some symbol of his allegiance. His were the scars of a boxer who'd used his fists to climb the social ladder of the mob. A Jew who'd gained the respect of wops through a homicidal lust. He'd sworn an oath of violence. And his master? His own insatiable will to power. He wanted to own this town. His name was Mickey Cohen.
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The year is 1949 and Los Angeles is being run by mob king Mickey Cohen. Now, a secret team of detectives and cops form together to bring him down and bring peace back to the streets.
Gangster Squad was a nice romp back to the days where detectives said funny lines, smoked indoors and held tommy guns. Here is a film that looks slick with a nice polish, a great ensemble cast and a story that has enough meat to it for us to chew on. Yet, people seem to be hating on it. Did they all expect another Untouchables? Sure, Gangster Squad has moments where the inspirations from past films peep through, but not once did this film try to be more than the sum of its means. Gangster Squad is a fun film, has thrilling moments and will entertain you.
Josh Brolin plays Sgt. John O'Mara, a tough as nails cop who is willing to put his life on the line for truth and justice. This annoys his very pregnant wife, who seems ready to pop at any moment. She takes it upon herself to help form the team he needs in order to protect him. The team involves: Anthony Mackie, an officer who is deadly with a knife, Giovanni Ribisi, a smart wire tapper, Robert Patrick, an ace with a pistol and his protégé Michael Peña whose eager to learn. The last addition to the team is the young, hot and dangerous Ryan Gosling, who seems to have found himself entangled with the mob king, Cohen's gal, played by Emma Stone.
There are obvious moments in the film where it tips its hat to predecessors like L.A. Confidential and the more obvious, The Untouchables. There is even a sequences involving a stairwell, although not as tense and more by the numbers shoot em up, the sequence is still one of the exciting pieces in the film. Both those films are more intricate with plot, characters and structure, by a mile. Gangster Squad doesn't focus on stuff like that, it wants to thrill you. Which is why some sequences in which we are suppose to care whether our characters live or die don't really pan out.
It has a graphic novel feel to it, very film noir and for those who've played L.A. Noir, will get the same sense of style. While the film looks great in a lot of sequences, that same style has some short comings, mainly the use of CGI as movement for the camera. It's the most noticeable, at least for me, in two scenes. With Josh Brolin in an elevator early on fighting two crooked guys and the second is when Ryan Gosling decides to pull his gun out in the middle of a club. The second scene in question is in slow motion and focuses mainly on his face, but the jarring background movement opposed to the steadiness of his face is just that, jarring and it takes you out of the film and makes you realize you are watching a film.
Everyone plays their roles respectively well, even if the team seems one dimensional. Sean Penn hams it up in a role that demands him to overact. The make up may distract some, but it added to the character for me. He was the one who seemed to have the most fun with his role. A lot of people scream style over substance and this may be true in some cases. I for one never went into the film expecting writing of another calibre and thus I found myself enjoying it a tad more.
There are some laughable scenes due to how cliché they are. One involves a character throwing their badge away into the water and another has the classic, character yelling another character's name as they walk away, when that person stops and turns, no one says a word. Moments like these that are played out in numerous films make me yawn and roll my eyes.
So go into Gangster Squad with an open mind, don't expect greatness, just a fun ride.
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