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6/10
Classic case of style over substance.
Andrew Gold7 March 2016
Gangster Squad is entertaining as hell. It's also a total mess. Seriously, it's like watching a live-action cartoon with an A-list cast trying so hard to make this dialogue credible, but there's nothing they can do. It's a cartoon. Over the top, hammy dialogue, crazy shootouts with no consequence. If you don't shut your brain off within the first 20 minutes of this movie then you're doing something wrong. It's a shame because the plot is based off of the real life gangster Mickey Cohen who was the ruler of LA for a time, and the source material has endless potential. But the faster you can accept that that's not the kind of movie this is, the quicker you can appreciate it for its camp value.

Some things that stand out are Sean Penn's ridiculously over the top performance. Not that you can fault him for it. The part is written as a stereotypical gangster with temper issues and the script throws him these cheesy one-liners that wouldn't sound authentic coming from anyone's mouth. But to his credit, he's fun to watch. As is Brolin who plays the leader of the squad, and probably the most "human" character of them all. And there's Ryan Gosling is doing a really weird but oddly fitting voice for this time period with his natural charismatic charm. The supporting cast is good as well but they practically nothing to do. There's no pathos anywhere - it's all overblown bombast, and if you're okay with that, then I think you'll get a kick out of Gangster Squad.

If you're expecting LA Confidential 2, stay the hell away.
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You've already seen this movie, but better.
jarryds12 January 2013
Originally intended for release in September of 2012, Gangster Squad has belatedly hit theatres this week. The film follows the story of LA crime boss Mickey Cohen and a group of off-the-book beat cops to bring him down. "Based" on a true story (What movie isn't these days?) the film and its fantastic cast promise much but come across as bland and boring.

Set in Los Angeles in the 50's, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is a crime lord who has taken over and there seems to be nobody who can stop him. The few good cops are outnumbered by the cops Cohen has bought and it seems all hope is lost. But Police Chief Nick Nolte decides something needs to be done and assigns good, hard cop Josh Brolin to put together a team to go after Cohen. What follows is the assembling of a team of not-so- perfect cops and the war they wage on Cohen's empire.

Sound familiar? That's because we've all already seen this movie, only done much better. You can tick the cliché's off as you watch. Good cop being grilled by his dirty cop superior? Check. Older tougher cop and his young protégé? Check. Evil henchman of the chief bad guy? Check. The list could go on but would approach spoiler territory. The climax of the film is somewhat predictable about half way through. You can foresee almost all of the events that will play out in the last 20 minutes and while it's enjoyable enough, it's nothing you haven't seen before.

The cast is a who's who list of names. Which makes the film all the more disappointing. With names like Brolin, Gosling, Penn and Stone they should blow you away. But the characters are nothing more than caricatures and nobody gets the chance to portray any real depth, with the possible exception of Giovanni Ribsi. Sean Penn looks bizarre in a mountain of makeup, although it matches his completely over the top performance. Ryan Gosling turns in a nicely subtle performance, but most of the rest of the cast are stuck in cardboard cut out roles with individual stories set on railway tracks. We all know where they're going to go, we just have to wait for them to get there.

Also worth mentioning in the reason for the delay in the film's release. Originally the film was to be released in September 2012, but then the Aurora shooting took place. At that time one of the key set pieces of the film was a scene in which the characters shoot at people from behind a movie screen in a theatre. Realising how disastrously that would be received in the wake of Aurora, the studio immediately suspended promotion for the film and set about reworking that scene. The cast re- assembled in August to reshoot the sequence, now taking place in Chinatown.

Something I liked: Robert Patrick's performance as the grizzled older gunslinger. As a Terminator 2 fan it was great to see him still taking out people almost at will.

Something I didn't like: The predictable climax. At the 60 minute mark I mentally made a list of things I thought would happen in the last 20 or so minutes of the film. Of my list of about 6 things, 5 of them happened exactly as I predicted.

Something that bugged me: The scenes with Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte seemed to be shot out of focus. It was particularly noticeable in the shots of Nolte. For a film with a budget of $75M, this just shouldn't happen.

Summary: Ultimately Gangster Squad is an enjoyable enough 100 minutes but isn't anything significant. There's no great performances, no spectacular set pieces nor any big moments that you'll go home talking about. For the ladies there's an ample amount of eye candy in the form of a suited and fedora-d Ryan Gosling, and for the gentlemen there's Emma Stone and a no-nonsense Robert Patrick. But the story fails to ever really leap off the page and become something. We're told Mickey Cohen is bad, but he's never anything more than "that bad guy". We don't hate him, we don't sympathise with him or desperately want him to be taken down. He's just "the bad guy". The same can be said for all of the characters, and the story as a whole. Which makes it on the whole, ultimately forgettable.
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5/10
Guilty Pleasure
David Ferguson9 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Admittedly, I am one of those who take movies very seriously. Good movies make me happy (even the sad ones), and bad movies make me sulk. Every now and then, one comes along that I find myself enjoying despite the warning buzzers blasting in my film snob brain. Such is the latest from director Ruben Fleisher (who also directed the entertaining Zombieland).

"Inspired by true events" should always be interpreted as a disclaimer that the movie will play fast and loose with history and the details of the story. Sean Penn plays Mickey Cohen, a renowned Los Angeles gangster from the late 40's. Due to widespread police corruption, Police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) authorized an "off the books" team to take down mob operations (gambling, prostitution, etc). This much was documented in Paul Lieberman's book. How this story is presented by Fleisher and screenwriter Will Beall (signed on for the Justice League movie) has more in common with a comic book than actual history.

The movie is extremely beautiful to look at. It's slick and stylish with a glamorous color palette, and the production design is top notch - capturing the look and feel of a booming Los Angeles. If you are expecting the next "L.A. Confidential" or even "The Untouchables", you will be disappointed. It's more in line with "Dick Tracy", "Scarface", and "Hoffa". In other words ... it looks great and the action, characters and dialogue are all way over the top.

The cast is superb, but most are underutilized. Josh Brolin is the tough leader of the squad that features Ryan Gosling (the token cool womanizer), Robert Patrick (the token dead-eye gunslinger), Anthony Mackie (the innercity, knife-wielding token black cop), Giovanni Ribisi (the token geeky electronics expert), and Michael Pena (the rookie and token Hispanic cop). Unfortunately, my crude descriptions are just about as in-depth as the movie goes with any of them. In fact, Yvette Tucker playing Carmen Miranda, gets almost as much screen time as any of these cops as she sings "Chica Chica Boom Chic".

The violence is cartoonish in its fervor. The aim of these gangsters is among the worst in movie history, and that's quite an accomplishment. Using Tommy Guns and pistols, my estimate is that one in every 167 shots actually hits an intended target. Many elaborate set pieces are destroyed in the process. The exception is Robert Patrick's character, who is actually featured in a detective serial. He never misses ... even after being wounded. Penn plays Cohen as a ruthless mob boss, unwilling to accept any failure from his crew. And you know what that means. No pink slips here ... just ugly death via power drill, burning elevator or classic car tug-of-war.

An interesting note is the presence of three actors from recent cult TV shows. Holt McCallany (Lights Out), Mireille Enos (The Killing) and Troy Garity (Boss) all have key roles in the film, as does Jon Polito, whose face and voice make him a must-cast in any gangster film.

If you are able to turn off the logical and reasoning part of your brain ... just sit back and enjoy Emma Stone smoking a cig while wearing a red evening gown, an understated Ryan Gosling with an odd speech pattern, Sean Penn wearing a prosthetic nose and spewing hilarious bad guy lines, and the creepy feeling that Josh Brolin is just 25 years away from looking and sounding exactly like Nick Nolte ... then hopefully you can take this one for what it is - a guilty pleasure. www.MovieReviewsFromTheDark.wordpress.com
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7/10
No names. No badges. No mercy.
moviewizguy7 January 2013
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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7/10
I don't understand the hate....
Matt_Layden15 January 2013
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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8/10
Fans of The Untouchables Will Certainly Enjoy this Gangster Movie
Claudio Carvalho28 July 2013
In 1949, in Los Angeles, the ambitious and ruthless kingpin Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) controls drugs, prostitution and gambling and has the local judge and police department in his pocket. When Sergeant John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) busts Mickey's brothel to rescue a naive newcomer in town, Police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) summons him and offers to O'Mara to form an unofficial unit to destroy Mickey's facilities and shipments to take him down.

O'Mara and his wife select four incorruptible cops to work with him. Then a fifth police officer joins the team in the beginning of a war against Mickey's empire of crime.

"Gangster Squad" is an entertaining movie based on the biography of the powerful and violent gangster Meyer Harris "Mickey" Cohen. This criminal indeed ended his days in Alcatraz but years later, sentenced twice for tax evasion and not for murder. Unfortunately the true story was not written this way.

The cast is magnificent, with names such as Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi among many others and the art direction and costumes is also excellent. The plot has many clichés and works like a cartoon, with the bullets occasionally hitting the heroes, but all of that is part of the entertainment. Fans of "The Untouchables" will certainly enjoy this effective gangster movie. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Caça aos Gângsteres" ("Hunting Down the Gangsters")
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5/10
Incredibly Cliché
mdspittl8 January 2013
I saw a screening of Gangster Squad last night and to say the least, I was unimpressed. I had decent expectations for the film with a stout cast the likes of Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling along with a director whose last two films I enjoyed (Zombieland and 30 Mins or Less). So what went wrong? Like the summary says it was incredibly cliché of every gangster movie out there and tried so hard to be like LA Confidential and the Untouchables. While this movie would have done much better in the 90's I don't feel it fits in this generation of film.

You have Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen who decides he wants to be the king of Los Angeles and he will take out whoever is in his way. Nick Nolte plays the police chief who is tired of the way LA is going and recruits hard nosed, do-as-I-please Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) to create a crack team to take Cohen down. From there you have the obligatory round-up-the team where he gets the bi-focal smart guy, the past-his-prime outlaw and side kick, the token black guy, and the cop who doesn't want to join at first but is thrust into the fray.

You then have a typical hunt down the bad guy, have a couple of shoot outs where an incredible amount of bullets fly and no one gets touched, and a very flat romance where you wonder why these two are together for no other reason than they are really good looking. There were also moments in the climax of the movie where the audience burst out in laughter and I feel that it was incredibly unwarranted.

The only real redeeming quality was Sean Penn who gave an intense, powerful performance as Mickey Cohen. All in all I was disappointed in Gangster Squad and feel like the entire movie brought nothing new to the table of the gangster genre.
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3/10
Best assembly of clichés I've ever seen
Peter Shanosky18 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
January movies are traditionally terrible. With this fact in mind, I generally try to avoid theaters for one month out of the year. Unfortunately for me, the top-notch cast and original September release date tricked me into buying the notion that this could be a good movie. The fact that my friends showed up unannounced to drag me out to see it didn't help either.

This movie aims to be something lasting, but for any serious movie buff, it falls well short of it's target. At times, it felt to me like a legitimate comedy. Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is a mob connected ex-boxer who decides that L.A. is his for the taking. Sergeant John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) is a WWII vet who is tasked with creating a crew to take him down. The rest of the cast falls into the "good guys" category of cops, moles, and love interests. This includes (but is not limited to) Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, and Emma Stone.

I was never bored during this film. Having seen many movies, even the terrible scenes kept me entertained by the sheer brilliance of over-used plot devices and clichéd character stories. Need a borderline cop who drinks, smokes, gambles, but has morals? Ryan Gosling has you covered. Old fashioned six-shooter cop with dead aim? Don't worry, Robert Patrick is there. Fear not, because the writer (Will Beall) has also included the 1940s tech guy, as well as a token black cop aggravated with heroin use in the community, and an apprentice to Patrick's character who just happens to be Hispanic.

I blame the failure of this movie entirely on unimaginative writing, to the point of being almost insulting. It is not as if Brolin, Gosling, Patrick, or least of all, Penn, are bad actors. They certainly made bad choices signing onto this script, but I can't see the checks they are cashing. The entire plot is predictable. 15 minutes into the movie, anyone could accurately predict the next hour or more. The actors are given nothing to work with. Additionally, Emma Stone's character serves no purpose whatsoever other than to add an attractive female supporting. Though the film is well-shot (what isn't nowadays) and has beautiful set details, the writing is so laughable it is nearly impossible to enjoy much of this movie.

I'm not one to give a movie anything less than 4-5 stars merely because I did not like it. Seems childish, but I couldn't give this more than three. The pace never slowed, good for a star. The setting was good, that's another. Finally, the cast did what they could with this script, that makes three. Can't find another strength to this movie. If you want to see the disowned child of L.A. Confidential be my guest. Re-watching something you actually like is probably a better option.
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4/10
An Early Frontrunner for Most Inconsequential Movie of the Year
Marter29 January 2013
It's only the second release week of 2013 and already we have a strong contender for "most inconsequential film of the year." Shot and edited without any idea of how to make it exciting, written like what a 12- year-old might think a tough gangster movie would sound like, and looking surprisingly modern for a period piece that takes place in 1949 and is "inspired by true events," "Gangster Squad" is a perfect example of mediocrity hitting the big screen.

In fact, the only interesting thing about this movie is how it came to be released in January and not in September like was originally planned. As many of you will note, the Aurora shooting spree took place, and was a tragedy. In "Gangster Squad"'s trailer, the titular squad shoots up a movie theater. Thinking that keeping that scene in would be rather tasteless, the studio pulled back the release date and re-shot portions of the film to have the big shootout take place somewhere else. They then scheduled a new release date of January 11, 2013, instead of September 7, 2012.

Perhaps it's just the cynic in me thinking this, but if the film was any good, why would it get released in January, which is the dumping ground for bad films? If the studio had faith that it was great, surely holding it back another couple of months would have been the right thing to do. My theory is that they knew this wasn't going to be anything special, or even good, so it was dumped in January, even despite its cast of stars and surprisingly large budget of $75 million.

The basic idea of "Gangster Squad" is that a group of LAPD Detectives got together and formed a team whose goal it was to stop the gangsters who threatened to take control of Los Angeles. The villain is a ruthless man named Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), a former boxer who pays off anyone who gets in the way of his "business dealings," which are illegal. Nobody can touch him, everyone thinks, but since we know the film is about the titular squad, we're pretty sure that he can, at the very least, be upset, if not fully removed from the equation.

The gang: John O'Mara (Josh Brolin), a family man and our protagonist/narrator; Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), a ladies' man and nothing more; Rocky Washington (Anthony Mackie), someone who really hates heroin; Max Kennard (Robert Patrick), the fastest draw in the Wild West -- seriously, he sounds like he's from the 1840s, not the 1940s; Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña) a rookie cop nobody takes seriously because he's Mexican; and Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), another family man and the one tasked with listening in to a bugged television set.

Does that not seem like some sort of dream cast? Throw in Nick Nolte as the police chief who orders John to do this and Emma Stone as the love interest for one or possibly more of the characters, and you're talking quite a strong group of actors. It's just a shame they had to go and make this, such a lifeless, bland, uninspired movie. Did we really need a soft-remake of "The Untouchables"? That's really what "Gangster Squad" feels like.

Much of the problem comes from the director, Ruben Fleischer, whose previous feature-length work is made up entirely of comedies. He did "Zombieland," which was a lot of fun, and "30 Minutes or Less," which was not. He does manage to inject "Gangster Squad" with some genuinely funny moments -- the best of which involved a knockout blow which failed in its target; you rarely see that in non-comedies at the cinema -- but most of the time he feels completely wrong for this material. He doesn't seem to "get" the feel of this type of movie.

There is no depth to any of the characters. The dialogue is so cheesy and unfitting that it feels like it was written by someone who maybe watch a gangster film once in high school and is trying to remember what the characters sounded like, there's more slow motion than in a Zack Snyder movie, but used without any purpose. Seriously, there's a shootout late in the movie that is done entirely in slow motion and it accomplishes nothing -- especially when you know that none of the main characters will die.

Despite the overuse of slow motion, the action scenes are still cut together in such a way so as to not allow you any idea of who's doing what to whom at any given moment. There's even a car fight, but since all of the characters look similar and the cars are the same models, you never know what's going on. The same is true of the fist fights -- the climax is one, which is to be expected, and is the only decent action in the entire film -- and many of the shootouts.

There's nothing to "Gangster Squad." Under the gangster movie surface, it's an empty, hollow movie, and there's absolutely no reason to watch it. You trudge through it, hoping the payoff will be worth the almost two hours of your life that it takes to finish -- and it feels a lot longer than that -- and you won't get that. "The Untouchables" exists so this film doesn't have to. It has an attractive cast and some touches of humor, but "Gangster Squad" is a cheap knockoff of one of what used to be one of the most reliable genres around.
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4/10
I couldn't take a second of this seriously.
Christian_Dimartino21 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I saw my first 2013 movie last night, and it was the star-studded gangster pic Gangster Squad. I had very low expectations going into it, so I'm glad I didn't leave disappointed. Gangster Squad is a movie that is trying to be something hip, edgy, and sleek, but honestly, the dialogue was so clunky I couldn't take a second of the damn thing seriously.

Inspired on a true story (which, in some cases, means that the story is bull), in 1949, a cop(Josh Brolin) is told to hunt down mob boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) at any means necessary. So he forms a group of cops (Ryan Gosling, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, and Anthony Mackie) to go rogue and kill whoever gets in their way. In another story arc, Gosling's character is in the middle of a supposed "dangerous" romance with Cohen's woman Gracie (the always wonderful Emma Stone, who is a strange choice for the part).

Gangster Squad has a cast almost too good to be true. But that's the thing: It isn't good. There isn't a boring second in this movie, but yet there aren't many good ones either. We have some of the best living actors in Hollywood involved, and none of them get to do anything special. Everyone involved delivers at least one outrageous line. Ryan Gosling even gives a bad performance, that's how sad it is. Gosling puts on a Mickey Mouse voice and basically reads off of a teleprompter for most of the time. Penn is having too much fun here, and he's way too over the top. But the moments with him are the most interesting.

The dialogue is atrocious, the last fifteen minutes is way too loud, the romance between Gosling and Stone doesn't feel believable, and the movie itself feels longer than the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. And I don't mean Zero Dark Thirty, I mean the actual hunt for Bin Laden, which was ten years. Everyone involved is having a good time, but to me the whole thing felt like a farce. And that leads to the next problem: the director.

Gangster movies belong to directors like Brian Depalma, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Cappola, and Michael Mann. The masters. They don't belong to someone like Ruben Fleisher. Fleisher's other credits are 2009's Zombieland and 2011's mediocre 30 Minutes or Less. Putting someone like him in the reigns of a movie like this is like letting Nancy Meyers direct Halloween.

Gangster Squad isn't terrible. Only kind of terrible. But if this is the first movie I've seen in 2013, I truly hope that the year will get better. I'm looking forward to quite a bit, so hopefully they improve. I guess that this is the best movie of 2013 so far, and that really is not saying a whole lot.

C-
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7/10
Gritty
rizwaanulhuq11 January 2015
Good movie. Worth a watch.

I like the dialogs, also the attitude of the characters. A slice of 40s postwar New York, successfully portrayed, with a bunch of believable characters. The love part is little shallow.

Probably a bit anti-semitic (Cohen as Jew) as well as anti-Indian (mark Chief's comments) but nevertheless thats the way Uncle Sam is back then maybe! Also, I would love to see Cohen die rather to be hanged by court. I mean what is the point of killing whole lot of his men just to arrest and hand over to legal system. Playing the good cop at the end doesn't go with the whole motto of the squad.
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3/10
Serves no purpose other than showcasing a series of tiresome gunfights
Likes_Ninjas907 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In 1949 Los Angeles is a city ruled by the mob. At the top of the crime syndicates is Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), a ruthless mobster involved with murder, women and drugs. To combat Cohen, the police department look to construct a special squad of cops who will shut down his operations. Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) pitches the idea to honest cop John O'Mara (Josh Brolin), who is also a happily married war veteran. His wife gives him the idea of picking men that have little ambition and therefore less likely to be corrupted. One of the main men to join his squad is Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who has eyes for Cohen's etiquette teacher Grace (Emma Stone). The other members of the squad include Coleman (Anthony Mackie), Max (Robert Patrick), Conway (Giovanni Ribisi) and Navidad (Michael Pena), each of whom has their own specialties.

The most depressing realisation about Gangster Squad is not simply that it is the lowest form of pulp trash, but that it leaves in its wake the question of "what if?" Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less) has assembled a cast that the most seasoned director would salivate over, only to show complete ineptitude towards authenticity and controlled performance registers. The only positive to be drawn from the film is that it contains some momentarily appealing photography. The rest of the film is a shambles. It's badly directed, allowing for poor performances, glossy over-stylisation, and serves no purpose other than showcasing a series of tiresome gunfights.

How did Warners Bros, who produced some of the most important gangster films ever made, let this happen? It's through no fault of the source material. The film is based on a seven day L.A. Times series by journalist Paul Lieberman, who in 2008 chronicled the real life formation of the Gangster Squad. Historical facts notwithstanding, the film is as it claims "inspired by a true story". It's the treatment of the material that fails. Discussing the film's cop-turned-writer Will Beall, Lieberman stated in an article for the Nieman Reports: "With 'The Gangster Squad,' he understood that the studio wanted to go big, with flying bullets and fists." Evidentially, someone at Warner Bros. felt this subgenre had to be modernised by removing the substance and racking up the violence.

The classic gangster films of the past were more psychological than ostentatious. Filmmakers like Howard Hawks used them as public warnings against the real life threat of gangsters and to pressure governments to take stronger action against them. The films provided cautionary tales about the way that ordinary people could be seduced the allure of power and money, raising their social status but dispersing their friends, family and moral values. Actors like James Cagney transformed the gangster figure into tragic Shakespearean characters that were physically and mentally corroded by the failure of the American Dream.

The heavy emphasis on the violence and the action in Gangster Squad lessens the opportunity for complex moral ambiguity. A character asks John late if there is a difference between the criminals and the gangster squad. It's hard to believe given the film's insistence of what a monster Cohen is, along with Penn's disappointingly monotone performance, which substitutes nuances for snarls and angry grimaces. After an opening scene where he orders someone to be drawn and quartered between two cars, there's little by way of sympathy or psychology.

Similarly, if Fleischer is interested in blurring the lines between the criminals and the police, why does he frequently romanticise their battles with adolescent techniques like slow-motion, freeze framing and careless juxtaposition? In one sequence he contrasts a raid with the Carmen Miranda song 'Chica Chica Boom Chic', as the camera crabs sideways, scanning the crew as they beat up crims. Is there any reason besides including a superficial pop reference? This is true of Fleischer's overwrought visual style, one which desperately claws for your attention, only to remain vacuous. There are pretty moments in the film, like a sumptuous wide shot of L.A.'s neon glowing nightlife and Emma Stone's first appearance in a red dress, but they're designed solely to distract you from the film's emptiness and artificiality, as these colour techniques are divorced from a theme.

The performances in this mess range between embarrassing and vapid, and in some cases, both. Brolin's character is a dull lead, the can-do officer with the beautiful home and concerned wife. I found her surprisingly more interesting but the exchanges between the pair gnaw at terrible clichés: "The war is over. Stop fighting," she tells him. When the rest of the cast is allowed to speak, and some of them aren't, they're embarrassed by laughably ornate dialogue, such as: "This is a war for the soul of Los Angeles!" and "The whole town is under water and you're using a bucket when you should be grabbing a bathing suit". Gosling is the only actor who seems aware of how silly the project is. But his performance is compromised of poses and jokey lines, so chilled that he could play Jerry in his sleep. Likewise, Emma Stone's reunion with her Zombieland director leaves her with only two things to do: smoke and look po-faced. The gangster squad itself is little more than a collection of action figurines, defined by quirks than personality, like the knife thrower, the fast shooter and the Hispanic guy.

I liked this movie more when it was called The Untouchables (1987). A tremendous cast and glamorous production design is wasted hosting loosely connected action scenes, with little substance to support them. Warner Bros. decided to delay the film six months following the Aurora shooting. Or was it because they already knew how poor the film was? Now after the events in Connecticut, how will they sell a film that's only interested in gunfire?
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4/10
Penn wants to be De Niro and Pacino simultaneously, but instead emerges ridiculous.
GoneWithTheTwins10 January 2013
When it stays light and adventurous, "Gangster Squad" has its minutes of spirited entertainment. But too often it attempts to mimic other films while pulling back the reigns of exuberance for a much darker approach. Zigzagging between callous seriousness one minute to comical zaniness the next, the film offers a mishmash of tones, styles, and gangster movie clichés. Consistency is not its strong point. By the third time slow-motion shootouts and glamorous dames awash in billowing cigarette smoke give way to tedious villains and brooding montages, any sense of direction vanishes - along with the fun.

It's 1940's Los Angeles and power-hungry mob boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) begins a relentless quest to take over the entire city. In order to stop him, Police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) tasks gung-ho Sergeant John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) with creating the "Gangster Squad," a secret group of unorthodox officers who will stop at nothing to bring Cohen down. Quickly becoming as ruthless as the very thugs they're assigned to apprehend, O'Mara, Wooters (Ryan Gosling), Harris (Anthony Mackie), Kennard (Robert Patrick), Ramirez (Michael Pena), and Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) begin destroying Cohen's empire one operation at a time. But when Wooters falls for Cohen's girl Grace (Emma Stone) and the gangster discovers the identities of his adversaries, the battalion must prepare for a war that will determine the fate of the city.

"Gangster Squad" doesn't know what it wants to be. As eclectic as the colors are in the movie (though certainly not as extreme as "Dick Tracy"), so too are the continually shifting tones and styles. The end credits appear as pulpy vacation postcard illustrations (the last of the unexpected fluctuations in imagery) which sharply contrast with the initial scenes of ultra bloody violence (featuring a man being torn apart by vehicles, a la "The Hitcher," which seems like a goofy execution in the face of serious villainy), the later moments of romance, and the climactic showdown in the Plaza Hotel. It's all as hodgepodged as last year's "Lawless," continually trying to impart severity, attraction, adventure, and even comedy at different moments, but forcing the wrong emotions. Several scenes of action will likely garner eye rolls, while elements of brutality will evoke laughter… unintentionally (the incredibly high rate of gunfire is hilarious in comparison to stricken targets, especially as enemies unleash machineguns against pistols and still hit nearly nothing).

Penn wants to be De Niro and Pacino simultaneously, but instead emerges ridiculous, forgetting his accent and tripping over his unnatural, obligatory mercilessness. The language, hats, coats, dresses, flasks, guns, cars, and cigarettes all bring momentary authenticity, but they're no match for the exceedingly contemporary camera angels (zooming through car windows during breakneck midnight chases), high definition slow motion, and overly apparent special effects, which take every opportunity to pluck audiences from their suspensions of disbelief to draw attention to the technical methods. There are junctures of fun, however, in the guerilla warfare tactics, battling crooked cops, assembling a dream team (not unlike "The Untouchables" or "Ocean's Eleven"), and the Wild West, loose cannon, one-liner gun show that is Robert Patrick. But O'Mara's confidence and "bull in a china shop" approach to law enforcement is frequently too generic and consummates in dead civilians, revenge attacks, and massive shootouts in which participants stand like stalwart statues in plain sight while bullets whiz around them, making contact with every prop in the background. Few viewers will be seeing these ideas for the first time.

  • The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
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4/10
Stereotype-ridden Snorefest
theredraylives26 January 2013
Though made for a plethora of reasons, a film need only achieve one goal to be successful: it needs to be entertaining. Engaging characters, good performances, and a story that is engrossing, even if a bit cardboard or cliché. When a film ultimately fails, it is because its characters are wooden or stereotypical, the storyline is boring, and the only question it might raise is, "was this intended to be sleep therapy for a study on insomnia?" Set that film in 1949 and make it about gangsters and cops, and you've got Gangster Squad, a film so inept that Ruben Fleischer should win an award for managing to make a violent action movie that could put an Olympic sprinter to sleep in mid-stride.

Josh Brolin stars as Sgt. Something-or-other, a no-nonsense cop who is recruited by the grizzled police chief (Nick Nolte, who eats sandpaper, apparently) to stop a gangster from taking over Los Angeles. Brolin broods as the take-no-prisoners Sarge, his squad rarely referring to him by name because they probably can't remember his name either. Despite how stylized the trailers may seem, how action-packed and exciting it promises to be, this is little more than a stable of stereotypes loosed upon mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles and hoping not to bore it half to death. It becomes exhausting to try to care about what's going on in the film because the characters haven't got a shred of credibility between them; the only enjoyment comes from Robert Patrick, himself packed tightly into the stereotype of the sharpshooting old westerner.

Sean Penn's utterly ham-fisted Mickey Cohen is taken down, but who cares? The film never makes you care about the struggle against him or the city under his rule; he's ruthless, he's tough as nails, and he's every other stereotype of the evil gangster that Sean Penn could look up the day after he got cast and decided to cram into the character. Every single actor in this film has been utterly fantastic in other films; how could the ensemble be so frightfully uninteresting? The utterly versatile and likable Ryan Gosling is so bland and watered-down that he seems confused as to why he is even in the film. Emma Stone is rendered to eye candy, a crime given her considerable talents.

Yet, as contrived as the characters are, it doesn't come close to touching how terrible the script is. Penn mugs at the camera, his only character direction seemingly "sound more angry" or "be more gangster-y." The film does itself a disservice to not show Cohen's rise to power- it wants the audience to see how powerful Cohen is, but killing his own men for their ineptitude and eating a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant does nothing to imbue the fear that Mickey is supposed to represent into the script. He quite honestly seems rather harmless, and without a villain to care about, the gangster squad's mission to tackle said villain becomes even more pointless.

The real tragedy here is the fact that for two hours, there are guns firing, flashy action sequences and big period set pieces, yet none of it seems all that interesting. It needed to be longer; it needed to go deeper. Having Sarge's wife tell the audience that he'll pick duty over family is supposed to be meaningful, but the scene is unnecessary- the opening sequence with Brolin's character tells everyone that. Too much time is spent between characters needlessly talking exposition at the audience. Time better spent developing a camaraderie between the squad members is instead spent on slow-motion sequences or on Brolin's chin-set, Mickey-Cohen-is-bad speeches. If Mickey Cohen is so terrible, why doesn't a film about his downfall just show the audience that? Not to say that Gangster Squad is completely bereft of enjoyment. The period setting was very well done, with some magnificent costume and set design. It may have been senseless and boring, but at least it felt like it was boring in 1949 and wasn't really out of place. A chase sequence early on with some vintage automobiles is excellently handled, filled with some great explosive tension, figuratively and literally. The film handles most of its gunplay and action sequences quite well, it's just a shame that all the bullets are coming from guns shot by gunmen and are flying at targets that are equally vapid and meaningless. These aren't characters, they're shells, into which an actor was poured and just told to act like a single-line description from an old pulp novel about gangsters.

Despite a moment here or there of decent action, there's nothing redeemable about the entire experience that is Gangster Squad. It is empty, boring, and ultimately will leave the audience feeling... well, nothing. What should have been an excellent period film with gangsters and cops with some depth and character exploration is instead ripe with brevity, with everything thrown at the screen wrapped in a stereotype with so little substance, you can almost see through Mickey Cohen.

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5/10
Cliché on Cliché
lilantman1012 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I love Ryan Gosling. I love Zombieland. I think Micheal Pena is one of the most underrated actors working right now. I don't know what happened. No Wait Yeah I do this is one of the laziest most sterile scripts that I've witnessed in recent memory. This feels like a studio executive went up to a script generator and typed in "Undercover cop movie" and it printed out the Expendables but with cops . Then he read it and put in " Undercover Cover Cop movie set in classic Hollywood".

To get the positives out of the way, the movie has a great aesthetic. It's beautiful, colors pop out nice and saturated. The actors here are all solid. Nobody is really embarrassing themselves, aside from being in this movie, from their performances and some of them even manage to deliver some pretty cheesy lines really well. The pacing here is pretty good almost too fast, but i'll come back to that. The action is nothing to speak of it's just there. The Direction leaves a lot to be desired, unlike the atmospheric classic hollywoods movies this rips off which have a slow focused camera work to them this is shot like any other action movie. Ruben Fleisher is definitely an actor's director he is able to get decent to good performances from actors, and I don't want to right him off just yet.

The Ugly. This movie is so generic. Even worse it's predictable. I've noticed a slew of genre movies recently that take a traditional typical story and it's clichés and turn them into tropes and strive to make them better. Lincoln Lawyer, 21 Jump Street, End Of Watch, take traditional story and plot points and make them better and inventive . This movie relishes in it's clichés, but not enough to make fun of them. The first thing the villain does it kills somebody. No nuance or tension he just kills somebody. The next scene is the cop whose too dedicated to his job making an arrest he shouldn't as his partner advices him not to. The scene after that he goes into the chiefs office. Had it been more over the top, I was laughing hysterically at some parts not intended of course, I could've enjoyed it more, but it's not smart at all. It even could've been like Sherlock Holmes 2009 or Pirates, but no it's fine being a standard action movie.

The Bad. This movie is written by Will Beall who is currently writing the Justice League movie that is set to come out in 2 years. Yeah, after the reviews for this movie come out and the box office take Justice League will find a new writer. I have nothing but contempt for this guy. This script has no meat it has stock characters with great actors. Once again if this was Edgar Wright or Joss Wheedon they'd get some dimension or have a lot of heart or be really funny, but no. The team consists of The Overdedicated cop, The guy who never misses, The guy who uses a knife, The tech guy, and the Newbie. There either needs to be Character development with a mediocre story, or Story Development with stock characters. This has neither. In every scene you get force feed exposition. If Tyler Perry directed an action movie it'd be like this. No subtly.

****SPOILERS*** There was a line so corny I didn't realize how bad it was Until I left the theatre. Sean Penn is the bad guy, whose scene can't end without someone being killed or yelled at, and he says to his henchmen who execute some one " You know the drill". Then they pickup a drill and kill him with it.. I couldn't make that up **** SPOILERS OVERE

This movie is a bologna sandwich. It's the yellow starburst of movies. Although It is more enjoyable then the Expendables, I couldn't tell you why it's the same idea big cast no effort, This movie is something you watch at a friends house. This is the perfect movie for one night at Redbox. All the people who don't watch 2 movies a day will enjoy it and think it's a good movie. All the smart people can have some friends over with some beers and laugh and make jokes about it and play " Name what movie that scene was stolen from". Basically an alternative go watch Mad Men or L.A. Confidential or go play L.A. Noire much more rewarding.
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6/10
Spoof or serious gangster drama?
estebangonzalez1021 January 2013
¨I always knew I'd die in Burbank¨

Gangster Squad walks a really thin line between being a terrible film and an entertaining one. First of all it has a really great and talented cast; it also has a good production design and is very stylized reminding us of some epic gangster films. On the other hand the film only looks gangster-like on the surface; it is not really a serious neo- noir gangster film but more of a light comedic gangster movie. This is director Ruben Fleisher's follow up to his hit comedy Zombieland, and in a way it does feel like a satire of sorts of gangster films, but in some strange way it fails to find its own personality. You never know if you're supposed to take the movie seriously or not because something is missing in the mix between drama and comedy. One critic defined the film better than I could by claiming it is ¨LA Confidential without the script.¨ It has the look and the tone of a serious gangster film, but the script which was loosely adapted by Will Beall from Paul Lieberman's book just fails and the dialogues seem cartoonish at times. The violence is pretty heavy as there are plenty of glamorized gunfight scenes and a large body count. Sean Penn plays the villain a little over the top, but it works if you view the film as this sort of spoof of the gangster genre. And really in my opinion this approach is what works best because it is entertaining if taken lightly as a spoof. I feel sorry for those who went into this film with high expectations because they will mostly be disappointed, unless they can live with a mindless popcorn action flick with some good performances.

The story takes place in 1949 Los Angeles where Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), a mob king from Chicago, has taken over the city and is planning on controlling all criminal activities there with the help of corrupt officers and judges. He will eliminate whoever stands in his path. Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) on the other hand is a WWII veteran who is determined to do what he can to clean up the city. When Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) hears about O'Mara's heroics he decides to assign him with a special underground task: to form an elite squad of police officers that will take down the mob King. Thus O'Mara begins his quest to find the right officers for his special team with the help of his wife Connie (Mireille Enos) who is worried about his wellbeing and wants him to be protected as best as possible. O'Mara chooses Officer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) and his partner Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña), Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) who's the brains in the operation, and finally Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) who decides to accept O'Mara's proposal after a member of the mob kills a kid he knew from the streets. Together these officers begin to try to intercept and disrupt Cohen's operations working as an underground hit squad. Wooters also happens to be having an affair with Cohen's love interest, Grace (Emma Stone), which could or could not be a good thing. And so the action begins as the squad tries to disrupt Cohen's reign and clean up the city.

As I mentioned before this is an entertaining film which sometimes borderlines on the bad side considering it does have some pretty bad writing and underdeveloped characters. But it did work for me as a sort of spoof and light hearted film with a very stylized look to it. It has some fun action sequences with some strong performances, especially from the always reliable Ryan Gosling who continues to reinvent himself in every movie. I absolutely loved him here once again. Josh Brolin gives a pretty solid performance when he is not asked to do the voice over bit (it was a bit annoying at the beginning giving it a sort of fake Sin City vibe to it). The rest of the cast is pretty good although not getting enough screen time or story lines to develop their characters. Sean Penn plays the stereotypical bad guy a little over the top, but I enjoyed his performance as well (it wouldn't have worked if you were expecting a serious gangster drama film). In the end Gangster Squad did work for me and I was entertained with this shoot-em up gangster film, but I know it isn't for everyone.

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7/10
Colorful as well as violent flick about a relentless outfit to take down brutal mobster Mickey Cohen
ma-cortes20 April 2014
Brilliantly and stylishly recreated story set in Los Angeles, 1949: A secret crew of police officers led by a determined sergeant (Josh Brolin) pull off a hard fight against a local mobster . As sergeant John O'Mara happily married to pregnant Connie O'Mara (Mireille Enos , though Amy Adams and Kate Winslet were considered to play her) is assigned by Chief W.H. Parker (Nick Nolte, who portrays , previously played the leader of the gangster squad in Mulholland Falls) to enlist a brave group (Jamie Foxx and Bryan Cranston were considered for the roles but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with their other movies) . As they work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) who runs the city . O'Mara chooses 4 officers (Robert Patrick , Anthony McKee , Giovanni Rivisi , Michael Peña) and asks another cop and vet, Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling , though Adam Brody, Joel Edgerton, Luke Evans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were on the short list for the part) to join him but he is not interested , but when he witnesses a killing , he joins them . Then , Wooters falls in love for Mickey Cohen's girlfriend called Grace Faraday (Emma Stone , though Teresa Palmer, Camilla Belle, Aly Michalka, Lily Collins, Emmy Rossum, Amanda Seyfried and Maggie Grace auditioned for this character)

This is a violence-ridden story full of action, drama , thriller and being pretty entertaining . Intelligent and suspenseful script in ¨The Untouchables¨ style , being written by Will Beall based on the book "Gangster Squad" from Paul Lieberman . Spectacular as well as explosive shoot'em up on the streets , mansion , station and Chinatown . Josh Brolin is excellent as impulsive and obstinate enforcer fighting against the underworld crime . Robert Patrick plays to perfection a veteran, incorruptible police who takes under his experience and protection to Michael Peña . And Sean Penn overacting in a heinous role as the nasty Mickey Cohen , Penn went through 3 hours of makeup each morning . Flamboyant and rich photography by Dion Beebe . Thrilling as well as atmospheric musical score by Steve Jablonsky . The motion picture was beautifully directed by Ruben Fleischer . This superb recounting will appeal immensely to Josh Brolin , Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone fans.

The flick was partially based on real events : 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 and then send them back to wherever they came from with the warning that if they ever returned, they would be killed . Other films dealing with this famous gangster Mickey Cohen are the followings : Bugsy (1991) played by Harvey Keitel , Fallen Angels (1993) played by James Woods , The Rat Pack (1998) (TV) played by Alan Woolf , L.A. Confidential (1997) played by Paul Guilfoyle , and recent TV series Mob City (2013) played by Jeremy Luke , including similar characters to 'The gangster squad' being starred by Jon Bernthal , Milo Ventimiglia, Neal McDonough , Alexa Davalos , Jeffrey DeMunn and Robert Knepper.
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7/10
Rat-a-tat-tat!
Spikeopath9 March 2014
Gangster Squad is directed by Ruben Fleischer and written by Will Beal. It stars Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick and Michael Pena. Music is by Steve Jablonski and cinematography by Dion Beebee.

Los Angeles is being brought to its knees by crime boss Mickey Cohen (Penn). In one of the darkened offices of the police department, a special squad of officers is being assembled. Given free licence to bring Cohen and his operations down by any means necessary, the Gangster Squad fight fir with fire.

Loosely based on real life facts, Gangster Squad is a good old slice of machine gun etiquette. An all star cast get to play good guys and wise guys in The Untouchables tradition, even if that in itself can't quite lift the film to the higher echelons of gangster movies past and present.

There's absolutely nothing new here, it plays out as expected. Brolin and Gosling are the main smooth operators in the good guys camp, the former given the family man in danger sub-plot, the latter given the dangerous dame to fall in love with in the shapely form of Emma Stone, who as it happens is also dating Cohen! Hmm...

Over in the wise guys department is Penn on full tilt sweary and hammy overdrive. It's a very colourful portrayal, menacing and completely over the top. How the performance sits with you will greatly depend on how you find Penn as an actor when let loose on a cartoon characterisation.

It's all very period pleasing, with a bustling late 40s L.A. hosting men with hats, trench coats and tommy-guns. Men who frequent the speakeasy bars as torch singers warble their stuff. There is nothing wrong with the production at all, except maybe when the dialogue veers to clunky. The action scenes are well crafted, loud, bloody and exciting, and the photography sparkles and the music soars.

If only the makers had put some thought into it, a bit of brains to go with the brawn. As a comic book type gangster piece, it works well on entertainment terms, elsewhere its lightweight and formula compliant, with the Ribisi, Patrick and Pena characters telegraphed a mile away. So, quite some way away from the great The Untouchables then, but better than Mullholland Falls. Make of that what you will. 6.5/10
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9/10
Captivating and intense, but lacks some substance for those who can't "let it go and watch the movie"
LindseyThePirate11 January 2013
This movie has everything you could ask for, in an action-packed emotional thrill ride, provided that you are able to just let go, and let yourself to be engrossed. For those who prefer films that may have a little less predictability, or people that find themselves unable to maintain the "suspension of disbelief", this movie would be understandably less enjoyable.

Right alongside moments that range from somewhat cringe-worthy, to positively grisly, there are enough instances of justice, and pleasant surprises to cause powerful feel-good moments just shortly after even the darkest of situations. I personally felt a constant paralyzing tension keeping me glued to my seat in the theater throughout the entire movie, and couldn't bring myself to leave and go to the bathroom.

The cast and their acting is just about flawless, (though admittedly a bit cliché at times), and the sets and cinematography are superb. Sean Penn is positively frightening, and shines in his role as the villain, while Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling perfectly portray the face of their vigilante-style band of misfits; The Gangster Squad.

If you are familiar with the story that this movie is loosely based from, you may be disappointed by the fact that it is QUITE loosely based indeed. I feel that this makes is a likable, albeit somewhat predictable movie, but others who expect it to stick with the "real story" may not find it as enjoyable, despite the overall positive tone that the new adaption allows.

Though the reviews seem to be a horse-a-piece, I recommend seeing it and judging for yourself, because it truly is an interesting thrill ride that will have you rooting for the good guys, tearing up from time to time, and cringing at the evil that Sean Penn is able to embody in an absolutely brilliant and stylish movie about good guys doing wrong to take down bad guys doing worse.
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5/10
oh dear
bloomers117610 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Well I got back last night after watching it. It was a last minute thing too. Love Gangster movies and thought this looked great. loving Boardwalk Empire and enjoyed public enemy number one (suprisingly) so I was a little dismayed by the total lack of empathy with this movie upon leaving the cinema. It was running good right up to Brolins wife (excellent acting btw) began to help him hire the team of misfits. From there it pretty much fell away. the crew were average at best. The acting was strained. Brolin wasn't too bad. But even he was below average. Never looked too comfortable. I couldn't really put a finger on it but it never really got my blood pumping. A few plot holes I cant be bothered to go into and I wonder if this was the outcome of a total script re-write by the director. Who knows. Penn tried his best to give the movie some depth. But even his performance lacked the Scorsese touch. Jimmy the Gent he wasn't. Despite the obvious attempt. Average movie that could have been good. Never great.
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1/10
Insults the audience from start to finish.
Tyler Dudley26 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It's predictable, in that it's exceedingly formulaic, and laden with plot devices that are way overused for any genre. Drawing and quartering (halving, in this case) a man with two cars (in the opening scene) certainly could be considered one way to set the tone, however, after the first five dark, and rather grueling minutes, it quickly devolves to a sentimental buddy/action romp, and becomes impossible to be taken seriously. Even the cool noir-speak is abandoned once the action sets in. Once the plot starts rolling along, characters stop saying neat things like: "Who's the tomato?" (In reference to Emma Stone). Thoroughly disappointing. Sadly, Penn's performance falls spectacularly flat. Too much makeup, not enough emotion.
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10/10
Untouchables on Steroids !!
Gavin9 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I first saw the trailer for this movie I was intrigued, as it reminded me of The Untouchables. Then I had the good fortune to actually sit down and watch the movie.

All I can say is WOW ! 5 minutes in and you are already rooting for the hero in the form of Josh Brolin - it just gets better from there.

Sean Penn as the extremely unlikable Mickey Cohen is his usual brilliant self as he wields power like a flaming sword in a wheat field after a dry spell.

A character who really stood out was Mireille Enos who plays the part of Connie O'Mara - tough as nails, with evident weakness in the form of the love she has for her husband (played by Brolin) she seems to take everything they throw at her with consummate ease, you can't help wondering if they should've just sent her after Cohen..

The cast has been assembled to perfection, the pace of the movie is breathtaking. This is a definite must for fans of The Untouchables.

I almost wish that a unit like this existed in my country...
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5/10
Gangster squad leaves you feeling robbed
dgefroh13 April 2013
When this movie first came out and I read about the storyline and then saw the excellent list of actors and actresses that were to star in this film, I for one could hardly wait to see it. Well guess what, the wait wasn't worth it, in fact maybe the wait should of been longer. I for one just don't get it, why would such quality actors and actresses sign onto this trite? Did I hate this movie? NO! Did I like this movie? NO! This is simply a waste of time, the movie lacks drama, authenticity, suspense, and realism. There is plenty of blood and guts, but no substance for the viewers. If you just want to watch a shoot-em up gangster movie this might be for you, if you want a story, drama, excitement, and something worthy of your time and money there are probably better options than this.
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4/10
All style and no heart in badly directed 40'ies gangster-western
OJT11 January 2013
I vote: 10 idea, 9 the cars, 8 shooting, 7 footage, 6 cast, 5 humor, 4 excitement, 3 believability, 2 execution, 1 Sean Penn.

And this is from a film lover which loves most of what Sean Penn delivers on and behind the screen. The director really messed this film up, obviously wanting Penn to be a Caricature of some lame gangster here. I think he realized what an amateur the director was, and gave up, to start playing like it was a joke Because this film is that - a joke.

I'll sum it up to a 4, for the wasted potential in a movie which promises I certainly will keep distance to next time Ruben Fleischer directs a movie, though I liked Zombieland, which was funny. Has he tried making this like Zombieland? I just wonder...

Even the kids and the births in this movie are violent, and there's put quite a lot of nastiness and graphic violence into this flick, but the problem is that it's far from what it wants to be. It's colorful and quite beautifully shot, many of the scenes. It's almost like a comic book.

It's probably the most boring gangster-flick I've seen, and the cast promises more. So far I'm glad I don't know what the budget of this is, though it's likely to be more than a handful of millions, because it's a waste of money and potential.

If you love the Godfather, Tarantino, The Untouchables and LA Confidential, stay far away from this. If you love good films, stay away from this!

The folks behind this don't deserve the money. Except Nolte, which actually gives a good role as head of police. The trailer gives it all. All style, nothing else, the film tries to be a bad ass movie, but falls on the ground as a flying turkey.
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4/10
Definition of Banality
agunas111 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
If you can enjoy boring, tawdry, cliché, airless, pointless dialogue; if you can tolerate characters with no purpose, no dimension, no development; if you can put up with story arcs that jump through time, with no regard to cohesion or logic, much less flow; if you expect and/or desire any of these things in a film, then this is absolutely one-hundred percent the movie for you.

If on the other hand, you, like most, are on the market for a film that makes sense (preferably on one or more levels), presents believable heroes and villains, and tells a story with more depth than a sheet of paper, stay as far away from this film as you can.
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