Reviewed by: Russell Emory
organized crime / mafia
This movie is based on the Los Angeles Times’ seven-part series “Tales From the Gangster Squad,” a chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.
novel: Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman
1940s and ‘50s Los Angeles Police Department
murder in the Bible
illegal sex: prostitutes and sexual slaves
sin and the Bible
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
|Featuring:|| Sean Penn … Mickey Cohen
Ryan Gosling … Sgt. Jerry Wooters
Josh Brolin … Sgt. John O’Mara
Emma Stone … Grace Faraday
Nick Nolte … Chief Parker
Michael Peña … Officer Navidad Ramirez
Giovanni Ribisi … Officer Conway Keeler
|Producer:||Langley Park Productions
Village Roadshow Pictures
Bruce Berman … executive producer
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“No names. No badges. No mercy.”
Usually when a movie has its release date pushed back, it’s because it’s a bad movie. “Gangster Squad” is no exception. Now, “Gangster Squad” was not pushed back from its original September release date, because it is a bad movie. It was pushed back to reshoot a movie theater shootout scene in light of the July 20th, Aurora, Colorado theater shooting.
It really doesn’t matter; the movie should have been shelved indefinitely. The story is set in 1949 Los Angeles and stars Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, and Emma Stone. Penn stars as Mickey Cohen, a mobster who runs L.A. He is setting up a wire service that will allow him to run all gambling in the western United States. Brolin’s character John O'Mara is a clean cop who is tasked with putting together a group of police officers to take down Cohen and his operation. Stone stars as Cohen’s girlfriend Grace Faraday who begins an affair with Gosling’s character Jerry Wooters, who is also a member of O'Mara’s squad, further complicating things.
The story is basically the squad hitting one of Cohen’s operations, celebrating, then hitting another, celebrating, hitting another, Cohen striking back, and then a final showdown. Overall, pretty simple.
Morally, this film is bankrupt. There aren’t many redeeming characteristics to any of the characters. Brolin’s character has a moment with a kid whose father has died, but it is hardly believable or emotional. Gosling’s character tells Stone’s that he is a Bible salesman to get her into bed. Overall, it is a pretty amoral film.
There is no spirituality in the film, whatsoever. The only mention is again Gosling’s character posing as a “Bible salesman,” but other than that, there is no mention of God, unless His name is being taken in vain.
As for sex and nudity, there is a scene where a woman is pole dancing, there is an attempted rape at the beginning of the film, and there is an implication that a number of women are being held as sex slaves by Cohen.
Violence and gore is off the charts. I really don’t even feel comfortable describing any of the violence in the film, because it is just so over the top.
There is a lot of profanity—almost too much to count. It is a wonder that between the amount of profanity uttered by Penn’s character alone and the violence, that this movie stayed in the R rated range.
I urge you to avoid this movie, at all costs. It is poorly made, poorly acted, and poorly written. Sean Penn for the entirety of the movie seems to be doing a poor Sylvester Stallone impression. Brolin is unemotional and unbelievable. Gosling and Stone have no chemistry, and the voice that Gosling uses for his character makes him sound like a child, not a Los Angeles police detective. Avoid this movie, even if it comes on TNT, and you have nothing better to do—read a book or take a nap.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme—GD (10), JC (3), “For Chr_st’s sakes” (2), “J_sus,” “Oh J_sus,” “Swear to God,” f-words (20), slang for male and female genitals (4), s-word (9), “hell” (14), “_ss” (8), SOB (8), damn (7) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy
“VOTING” FOR BAD MOVIES—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.