Gangster Squad Review

Reviews Films


After viewing the trailer multiple times before watching this film, my excitment for this film continued to grow.

There I was, waiting in the foyer with a friend, frozen coke and popcorn, giggling about how amazingly beautiful Ryan Gosling is and discussing the films delay after the Aroura shooting. We made our way into the cinema (which was packed!) and waited anxiously for the lights to dim.

Gangster Squad is a film set in the 1940s and 50s about a group of LAPDs finest fighting to keep Jewish Mafia member, Mickey Cohen and associates from taking over LA with his illegal activities and drug operations. After a group of police officers come together, each with their own qualities, they agree to do whatever it takes to bring Mickey down.

Some of the cast consists of Josh Brolin as Sgt. John O’Mara, a kind, knowledgable and ambitious team leader. Ryan Gosling as Sgt. Jerry Wooters, a ridiculously charming and handsome young man who loves his alcohol maybe a little more than love interest Emma Stone as Grace, a beautiful and seductive woman affiliated with the wrong man. Sean Penn as the key mobster, Mickey Cohen, an intense and powerful character. Giovanni Ribisi as Officer Conway Keeler, the brains behind the technological side of things, and, Mireille Enos as Connie O’Mara, the supportive wife of John O’Mara who is heavily pregnant yet supportive and literally put the ‘gangster squad’ team together.

Mickey Cohen was a real-life mobster in the 40s and 50s after a boxing career. The character of Mickey was played quite well by Penn. The film demonstrates how violent he could be whether he was threatening someone or literally putting a drill through their head. The most comical character would have been Sergeant Jerry Wooters. Gosling’s expressions, charm and portrayal of Jerry come across quite comical in a lot of scenes. He’s a different kind of funny, charming as hell and definitely one to watch. Mireille Enos performed wonderfully and I definitely liked how her character wasn’t cliché’d. She supported John through his work and helped where she could. Director Ruban Fleischer (ZOMBIELAND) made a wise decision to portray her this way. Also, Emma Stone is ridiculously beautiful.

The film starts off with an intense tone. The visual style and music aids the intensity and Sean Penn’s performance in the first few minutes contributes to the initial vibe. The introduction wastes no time in revealing each main character and the lengths they’d go to finish a job. We see Mickey kill his first victim and is portrayed as a powerful man who will ruin anyone who steps on his turf. Sergeant John O’Mara who shows no mercy as he saves an innocent young woman in the hands of the wrong man. The first act of the film is interesting, it’s thought out well and has a clear artistic vision. We get a brief insight on the few main characters and can clearly distinguish who the more likable characters are.

Once we are introduced to the ‘gangster squad’ team, we see them unite, form friendships, endure and fail. Their plans and attempts at bringing Mickey down seem more realistic than typical crime and action movies. Fleischer combined the action with comedy, which made the audience like the gangster squad more as time progressed. The pacing of the film is good. The narrative had diversity and constantly captured my attention. The editing was very well done; I particularly like the way the last stand-off was shot in the hotel lobby. Sound design was also done incredibly well and deserves recognition. Each frame that made the final cut was chosen with precision and it clearly showed. The production value was high and it’s now clear Fleischer has particularly high standards when it comes to production design, art department and performances. Oscar winning (and Australian born may I add) Director of Photography, Dion Beebe (CHICAGO, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA) did an exceptional job at capturing the action. The image on the screen in pleasing even if someone is getting shot.

Gangster Squad is a great film about the tale of the infamous Mickey Cohen. The film entertains and delivers a range of different emotions, it captures your attention in a rather powerful and irresistible way. I rate it 8/10. See this on opening night.

Stacey's favourite films include: Titanic (1997), Cast Away (2000), Moulin Rouge (2001), The Notebook (2004), Kill Bill vol.1 and 2 (2003, 2004), Ruby Sparks (2012) and the list goes on.