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Gangster Squad Reviews

Our Review

Penn, Gosling, and lots of posing

Dale Rolfe, MovieFix
A showdown flick between a covert cop squad and the gangsters that rule Los Angeles in 1949, Gangster Squad relishes in set detail and is loaded with talent – but it checks drama and subtlety at the door.

Gangster Squad is a loosely based depiction of the savage war for Los Angeles between mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and a small outfit of rule breaking lawmen sent to smash up his empire.

War hero John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) pulls the squad together from the small list of uncorrupted cops left in the city, including drinking and womanising Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) and brains man Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), embarking on a violent off-the-books assault of Cohen's prostitution, gambling and drug rackets.

Amid the mayhem, Emma Stone's Gracie, Cohen's moll, is a ravishing, slinky distraction.

For all the sex and violence the trailer offers, the full experience is less satisfying as director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) blusters through the drama from shoot-out to explosion to one-liner to shoot-out.

The superb cast wear the hell out of their fedoras but are left standing in the background without much to do. Sean Penn's seething, ropey psychopath is so excessive as to become farcical and the violence is as subtle as a drill to the head, which incidentally is the fate of one of Cohen's lackeys.

Gangster Squad is LA Confidential redrawn in comic-book frames, and while completely enjoyable, is totally forgettable.

Watch the trailer here

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