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Gangster Squad

Thriller . Drama . Crime . Action

Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and — if he has his way — every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop… except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.

Actors: Robert Patrick , Anthony Mackie , Frank Grillo , Josh Pence , Giovanni Ribisi , Nick Nolte , Josh Brolin , Emma Stone , Ryan Gosling , Sean Penn
Directors: Ruben Fleischer
Country: USA
Add a Review

Roger Moore
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Gangster Squad is a gang war drama built on Western conventions, a rootin' tootin', Camel-smokin', whiskey swillin' shoot'em up.

Rex Reed
New York Observer

The best thing about Gangster Squad is how they got the 1940s accoutrements right.

Peter Debruge

The cops play things as dirty as the crooks in Gangster Squad, an impressively pulpy underworld-plunger that embellishes on a 1949 showdown between a dedicated team of LAPD officers and Mob-connected Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) for control of the city.

Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn's over-the-top tirades and bullying threats are still there - it's a wild and woolly performance that isn't always as menacing as perhaps the actor intended it to be.

James Berardinelli

Gangster Squad provides a welcome burst of heat and color, even if those qualities are more illusory than real and subject to a fast fade.

Peter Bradshaw
The Guardian

For all the guns and gore, it's as breezy and uncritical as a tale from the True Detective magazine that the cops can't help reading.

Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News

Instead of expanding their sights, Fleischer and Beall narrow them, into a repetitive and increasingly exhausting series of shootouts. By the end, those guns might as well be held by extras, rather than some of the most talented actors of our time.

Todd McCarthy
The Hollywood Reporter

Made up of synthetics rather than whole cloth, this lurid concoction superficially gets by thanks to a strong cast and jazzy period detail, but its cartoonish contrivances fail to convince and lack any of the depth, feeling or atmosphere of genre stand-bearers like "L.A. Confidential."

James Mottram
Total Film

Typified by Penn's blustery performance, Gangster Squad is sleek, stylish but superficial. Easy on the eye, even easier on the brain, it doesn't last long in the memory.

Nick de Semlyen

Sean Penn's not been this fun since Jeff Spicoli and there's plenty of rip-roaring action, but Gangster Squad proves a minor entry in the annals of LA noir.

Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor

Penn is always entertaining when he's playing characters drunk with depravity. Gangster Squad could use more of him.

Rick Groen
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

The irony is worth noting: Back when it was really 1949, Hollywood made noir with teeth; this is nougat with pretensions.

Connie Ogle
Miami Herald

It's the cinematic equivalent of Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name: You know in your heart it's a crappy song, and every wince-inducing line is an affront to your intelligence, but hey, it's on the radio, so you turn up the volume and sing along anyway.

Lou Lumenick
New York Post

A cartoonish 1940s shoot-'em-up that's impossible to take seriously.

Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle

Josh Brolin plays the leader of the gangster squad as a kind of dedicated dunce, which is appropriate considering their clumsy antics. Ryan Gosling has more nuance as his right-hand man, but Emma Stone is completely out of her element as a slinky film noir heroine, a walking anachronism.

Claudia Puig
USA Today

In the last five minutes the film shifts gears and offers a tribute to law enforcement. But this tacked-on resolution is as sticky and fake as Sean Penn's make-up job.

Andrew O'Hehir

As a capable imitation of better movies by Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma and Roman Polanski – it's reasonably successful entertainment.

Wesley Morris
Boston Globe

Gangster Squad is an almost movie. It's almost terrible. It's almost entertaining. But it's missing the shameless insanity of a wonderfully bad movie, and the particular vision, point of view, and coherence of some very good ones. So it sits there in between - loud, flashy, and unnecessary.

Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune

A triumph of production design but a pretty dull kill-'em-up otherwise.

Louis Black
Austin Chronicle

Despite the unrelenting action and the terrific cast, Gangster Squad comes up more scattered than successful.

Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic

It never really comes together in a satisfying way, and given the talent involved, that adds up to a big disappointment.

Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

To be fair, this tawdry dose of pulp fiction ("inspired by real events") is not a complete waste of time. It offers the marginal pleasure of an all-star cast slumming their way through a thicket of routine plotting, almost laughable dialogue and the constant blaze of tommy guns.

Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly

Brolin and Gosling are both supposed to be playing World War II veterans who bring their knowledge of battle into the tough turf of the streets, but that's just a concept that the sketchy, half-baked script tosses out there.

Stephanie Zacharek

The violence is so indifferently presented that it has no kick; it’s not grim or graphic enough to shock, but it doesn’t rev us up, either. The picture’s various shoot-’em-up sequences are so generically conceived and shot that each one is indistinguishable from the next – by the movie’s end, they may as well all collapse into an exhausted heap.

Marc Mohan
Portland Oregonian

Very few will remember it in a few months, which is probably just fine with the folks who made it.

David Edelstein
New York Magazine (Vulture)

The period thriller Gangster Squad plays like an untalented 12-year-old's imitation of Brian DePalma's "The Untouchables."

Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times

The soul of the era is missing, and with it any reason to care. In Fleischer's hands, the high-stakes shootouts are as stylish as a GQ spread, but it's nearly impossible to figure out who's zoomin' who.

Keith Uhlich
Time Out New York

Though based partly on actual events, Ruben Fleischer's ludicrous shoot-'em-up plays fast and loose with the facts, and plenty else besides.

Ann Hornaday
Washington Post

Slick, sick, self-consciously stylish and defiantly shallow, Gangster Squad is one of those movies you can't talk about without invoking other (often better) movies. A lot of movies.

Lawrence Toppman
Charlotte Observer

It begins as energetic, clichéd nonsense and ends as irritating, clichéd nonsense.

Nathan Rabin
The A.V. Club

Gangster Squad aims for the pop-operatic intensity of "The Untouchables," but ends up feeling like a savage, simple-minded comic strip.

Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal

Mr. Beall, a former LAPD cop, has written a script so devoid of feeling that the cartoons blur into thin line drawings, while what's been done with the marvelous Ms. Stone - i.e. next to nothing - is downright criminal.

Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice

The proximity of horrible headlines scarcely matters - released on any day of any calendar year, Gangster Squad would be a crime against cinematic sensibility.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone

This movie made my ears hurt. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy could have turned this pulp into insinuating jazz. What's here is a cartoonish bore.

Charlie Schmidlin
The Playlist

In lieu of any sharp insight into the period and its notorious figures, the film's brash, ultraviolent encounters instead build a showy exterior with nothing of import left standing.

Glenn Heath Jr.
Slant Magazine

Ruben Fleischer's film is a perfect example of Hollywood hypocrisy, something to be ignored diligently.

A.O. Scott
The New York Times

His (Fleischer) first feature, "Zombieland," was a half-witty genre parody. This one might be described as genre zombie-ism: the hysterical, brainless animation of dead clichés reduced to purposeless, compulsive killing. Too self-serious to succeed as pastiche, it has no reason for being beyond the parasitic urge to feed on the memories of other, better movies.

Add Soundtrack

1. The Hills of California ( Performer: Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers ft. Paul Weston & His Orchestra )

2. No Baby Nobody But You ( Performer: Stan Kenton & His Orchestra )

3. Perdido ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

4. Mr. Five by Five ( Performer: Imelda May )

5. Early Autumn ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

6. Mr. Fool ( Performer: Written and David Bartholomew )

7. Kiss Kiss ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

8. Jelly Wiggle Boogie ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

9. Chicken Shack Boogie ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

10. Amado Mio ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

11. Bull Fiddle Boogie ( Performer: Pee Wee King )

12. So Tired ( Performer: The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

13. A Little Bird Told Me ( Performer: Written and Paula Watson )

14. Route 66 ( Performer: The Pied Pipers )

15. Big Jay's Hop ( Performer: Written and Big Jay McNeely )

16. Blow Blow Blow ( Performer: Written and Big Jay McNeely )

17. Boogie in Front ( Performer: Written and Big Jay McNeely )

18. Chica Chica Boom Chic ( Performer: Sharmila Guha and The Gangster Squad Movie Band )

19. Apricot Flowers Blossoming ( Performer: Lu Wencheng )

20. Evening Primrose ( Performer: Shirley Yamaguchi (as Li Xianglan) )

21. Ole Buttermilk Sky ( Performer: Hoagy Carmichael )

22. Bless You (For the Good that's In You) ( Performer: Peggy Lee ft. Mel Tormé )

23. The Hills of California (feat. Paul Weston & his Orchestra) ( Performer: Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers & Paul Weston & his Orchestra Itunes )

24. Early Autumn (feat. The Living Sisters) ( Performer: St. Vincent & The Living Sisters Itunes )

25. Bless You (For the Good That's In You) [feat. Mel Tormé] ( Performer: Peggy Lee Itunes )

26. Big Jay's Hop / Blow Blow Blow ( Performer: Big Jay McNeely Itunes )

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