by Lorie Lewis Ham
Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.
I have been interested in the Mafia and organized crime for years now–no I’m not involved in it, I just write about it in my mystery novels. So whenever a new gangster movie comes out I’m always curious and try to go see it if the trailers make it look like it could be good. From the first trailer I saw months ago, I felt like Gangster Squad had the potential to be a good movie so we headed out to see it this weekend.
The basic premise of Gangster Squad is this–big time gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is ruling over Los Angeles and no one seems to be able to touch him, so the police chief decides to ask one of his detectives, Sgt. John O’ Mara (Josh Brolin), to put together a special team to take Cohen down. This team though will be working under the radar and not “officially” as part of the LAPD because the chief doesn’t know who he can trust and knows they will have to break some rules to get Cohen.
O’ Mara’s wife helps him put together the team which consists of misfits within the police department who are more concerned with putting bad guys behind bars than following the rules–most of which have a military background. O’ Mara’s fellow cop and friend Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) has given up on doing any good as a cop and ends up getting involved with Cohen’s girlfriend Grace (Emma Stone). But when Cohen’s violence hits close to home, he joins up with O’ Mara’s group.
At the beginning of the movie it states that it is based on true events (how loosely based I don’t know), which I think in films like this adds something to it, especially for a Mafia buff like myself. I thought Sean Penn did an excellent and realistic job of playing the power hungry, crazy Cohen and I really liked the members of the “Gangster Squad” overall, from the cowboy to the intelligence geek. There was good chemistry and watching them work together was fun. Also, the fact that they weren’t perfect in doing their job I think added a more realistic feel to the movie. Brolin’s character is the kind of guy you want to route for and I really liked his wife (Mireille Enos from The Killing)–the two had great chemistry. And of course Emma Stone is always wonderful. Sadly, the weak link in the movie was Ryan Gosling–don’t get me wrong he was lovely to look at, but he just didn’t fit the role. Gosling just wasn’t believable as the tough cop.
Of course there was a lot of violence–it is a gangster film–there were a few times involving Cohen I had to turn away, but that’s to be expected. Overall I enjoyed it. It was a good gangster movie, with a realistic feel, some great heroes, and some sad surprises.
Gangster Squad is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes for other shows playing in Dinuba can be found on their website.