Gangster Squad (2013) Review

Looks great with an A list cast and brilliant visuals but suffers from a serious lack of originality. Whilst the cast were brilliant with their roles you couldn’t help but feel they weren’t given much to work with, I put this down to the writing and script because it was consistently weak from the storytelling to characters. At first the lack of originality almost felt like continuous homages to other gangster films but it does get to be boring as there is nothing new to add, then the film feels more like a rip off of other films, films I really like (Untouchables, Goodfellas). At the end though the film is at least fun to watch and has some highlights such as acting and gun play. However some of these gun play scenes would make you laugh because they are just so absurd, some key scenes I will discuss later.

Gangster Squad - Banner

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.

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Story: 40%       Acting: 80%      Visuals: 80%      Dialogue: 50%

Fight/Gun Scenes: 70%      Style/Sound: 70%      Characters: 55%

Total: 63%

Gangster Squad - Poster

The story of this film is pretty much been there done that, and the more you think about it after watching the film the more you realize just how lazy this really was on the side of the writers. The acting was brilliant but because the actors where all experienced and talented not because they were given anything good to work with from the writers, the dialogue wasn’t anything special and was one of the films weakest points and as a gangster film this becomes a problem. One of the main parts of gangster films I love is the fantastic dialogue between characters and if you can’t even get that right then you are in for crummy film in this sub-genre. Lastly the characters of the film could have been a lot better with what I saw but then again they could have been much worst with a less talented cast so I should count myself lucky.

Gangster Squad - The Squad

The visuals were all pretty good and expected from a modern gangster film, the costumes the buildings even the guns where all very impressive. Got some trivia for you on the visual side, the guns were all re-mastered guns used in that time period so could have actually been used by the mob, each gun was estimated at costing $40,000 each. The cars used in the car chase scenes also had to be fitted with modern brakes and engines so as to be far more reliable on shoots. The fight and gun scenes where pretty good for the most part, however some scenes were ridiculous mainly one scene where two people stand at most 4 feet away and shoot Tommy guns at each other, nothing between them but Christmas decorations yet nobody gets shot, gave me a good laugh but it was unintentional.

Must Watch Trailer:

The best reviews I found would be these “A bullet-riddled bloodbath with an all-star cast, Gangster Squad is a lurid and ludicrous Mob thriller that glorifies a gangland lifestyle.” Claudia Puig. Then “When the gun smoke clears, the body count is finished and the blood is mopped up, “Gangster Squad” is little more than another Hollywood wannabe overshadowed by the legacy of “L.A. Confidential” Betsy Sharkey. Also “Gangster Squad, I have seen The Untouchables and you, sir, are no Untouchables. But you may be the most violent episode of Dragnet ever.” Jeff Meyers. Lastly “Where originality goes to get mowed down by a Tommy gun” Matthew Razak . My favourite scene would have to be the part where that kid dies and Jerry goes a little loopy nearly killing Mickey.

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About Tim The Film Guy

Very opinionated about films!

16 responses to “Gangster Squad (2013) Review”

  1. The Focused Filmographer says :

    Yep, agreed here with you. Seen it before, was fun to see the story again, hoped for a few different things, didn’t get them. Wasn’t Bad…but wasn’t anything special.

    Nice review.

    Yep, I laughed at them shooting at the Christmas decorations and not each other. haha


  2. ruth says :

    I pretty much agree with you on this Tim. It’s style over substance, but a gangster movie that lacks grit is just pointless. Some people call this fun but it wasn’t all that enjoyable as there are too much cheesy and cringe-worthy moments.


  3. atothewr says :

    Kind of what I suspected. Nice review.


  4. keith7198 says :

    Good stuff! Like many others, your review makes me think my decision to wait for the DVD release was a stroke of genius!


  5. Nostra says :

    Yeah, it wasn’t very original, but I had a great time watching it. The shooting in the lobby of the hotel was very silly, both of them not being able to properly aim.


  6. r361n4 says :

    A very fair review, I definitely agree that the gangster angle was mishandled but I really like the core group of the actual Gangster Squad and the chemistry the actors had together. Nothing special, but still fun enough for a reccomendation from me to my friends


  7. wordschat says :

    Good review pointing out the good and bad which was mostly bad. Just occurred to me that the Christmas decoration shoot out looked like it was filmed for 3D with so much coming at all directions.


  8. CMrok93 says :

    Dumb, but a ton of fun if you’re willing to take it all with a grain of salt. Good review Tim.


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