Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in a scene from the movie Gangster Squad.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in a scene from the movie Gangster Squad. Wilson Webb - Warner Bros media website

Movie review: Gangster Squad

IT'S easy to understand why critics are divided on Gangster Squad.

On the one hand, it's a slick crime drama that is wonderfully shot and edited.

But on the other hand, it doesn't give the majority of its A-list cast the chance to shine and is too patriotic to be a true LA noir flick, but too violent to be a mainstream caper like Ocean's Eleven.

The film dramatises the true story of a covert group of LAPD officers who were tasked with dismantling mobster Mickey Cohen's ever tightening stranglehold on post-war Los Angeles.

Josh Brolin is good enough as the ethical, if stubborn, war vet turned cop who is leads the group into the shady underworld of mob-run businesses.

Ryan Gosling is effortlessly cool as usual and Sean Penn is fantastic as the power-hungry Cohen.

Aside from the beautiful costumes, cars and sets, Gangster Squad's biggest asset is that it is based on a true story.

The only character not based on a real-life person is Emma Stone's Grace Faraday, who feels like she's thrown in just to pretty up what is otherwise a very macho, punch-throwing, gun-slinging movie.

The other main problem is that while it looks like the 1940s, Gangster Squad doesn't exactly feel like the 1940s.

It's not a true period piece, rather than a good guy versus bad guy story dressed up to look like it's in the 1940s.

There are a few cheesy lines, but there are a few good ones too amidst all the action.

Gangster Squad is entertaining as far as crime-fighting flicks go, but it just feels like more could have been done with such an excellent story and cast.

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Gangster Squad

  • Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena
  • Director: Ruben Fleischer
  • Rating: MA 15+
  • Verdict: 3/5 stars