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December 13th, 2018

Gangster Squad Movie Review

John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) leads a rag-tag group of police officers against crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) in 1940’s Los Angeles.

With Gangster Squad you get a gory cops-just-wanna-do-the-right-thing romp. L.A. Confidential was a better film to cover the nearly same subject matter, and L.A. Confidential did it with more drama and less neon lights.

This is the best “based on a true story” film I have seen all year. I was kind of turned off at the beginning credit sequence as Penn was playing with a punching bag-in slow motion. If Penn is trying to show that boxers don’t age gracefully when they go into the world of organized crime, then he accomplished (with veiny arms and all) his goal. Brolin was at least fun as the cop who is not afraid to hit and be hit back, even if his pep-talks didn’t pass muster. Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) utters “this is enemy occupation”, Brolin says to his squad they are at war. If you are at war don’t you want to kill your enemy instead of messing with their phone lines and telling captured goons to take a hike?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would use this movie as point of reference in rants involving overreaching police in this country. I am not overly paranoid, and see Gangster Squad as just a mediocre action noir with some style but no depth. Even now, as I search for another discussion point I am plagued by Ryan Gosling’s bravado smirks.

This film was originally supposed to have a September release, but after the Aurora Colorado shooting it was moved back to a January. Why you ask. A scene where gunman shoot through a theater screen into the audience was deemed to insensitive after James Holmes shot up a The Dark Knight Rises screening. With what happens in the first three minutes of the movie, a theater shooting would not be the grittiest thing to grace your eyeballs.

Gangster Squad – ★★1/2


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