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
In the movie, the Gangster Squad is assembled to go after Mickey Cohen. However, in real life Chief W.H. Parker set up the squad to prevent other gangsters from taking over Cohen's rackets after Cohen went to prison on income tax evasion. Whenever the squad learned that out-of-town gangsters were coming to Los Angeles to try to set up new operations, the Gangster Squad would kidnap them, beat them up (some rumors say torture) and then send them back to wherever they came from with the warning that if they ever returned, they would be killed. See more »
Parker Center is shown in the background of several shots but its construction was not started until 1952, so it wouldn't have been there in 1949. 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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Glossy, slick, bloody, violent, dumb, crowd-pleasing, and undeniably entertaining. Filled with every gangster genre cliché rolled into one, GANGSTER SQUAD ain't high art, nor is it aiming to be. It seemed as if director Fleischer was trying to tell this story in the most fun possible way, and he succeeds with flying colors. The film is at its best when its loud and dumb but falters when it tries to be anything more than that.
The cast seems like they're having fun, especially Sean Penn who has a field day with his role as the villain Mickey Cohen. The lines he's given are pure gold. Josh Brolin does a great job as the lead and Ryan Gosling is charming and charismatic as usual. However, Emma Stone is underused with a thankless role, but it's nice that she's in the film anyway. Overall, GANGSTER SQUAD is fun entertainment. No judgments, little pretense.
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