Gangster Squad Review: Generic as its Name, But Still Pretty Fun

Gangster Squad is entertaining. It’s violent, pretty and well-acted. Also, you’ve seen it about 100 times already. The name “Gangster Squad” sounds like the straight-to-DVD generic rip-off of a gangster movie starring Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn. Take out the straight-to-DVD part and it pretty much is a generic rip-off of a gangster movie starring Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn.

Not that its an entirely bad thing. Gangster Squad is fun. It’s basically an updated version of The Untouchables and a combination of L.A. Confidential and Dick Tracy. You know everything that is going to happen in Gangster Squad. Mostly because you’ve already seen every single scene in the movies before.

One thing that will set Gangster Squad a part from many movies in theaters right now is its ridiculously short 113-minute run time. Director Ruben Fleischer made a really ballsy move releasing a movie that is less than two and a half hours. Who wants to be able to drink an entire 64-ounce soda and watch an entire movie before having to use the bathroom?

Maybe if Fleischer had done what everyone else was doing and let everything breathe, Gangster Squad would have been better. As it is, I liked it, but it was like they were rushing from one scene to another checking off a list of scenes from Cop vs. Gangster movies.

Sean Penn’s Mickey Cohen was a great tribute to Robert De Niro’s Al Capone. Penn’s makeup in the movie looks like it came straight from the Dick Tracy set. Everything else was based on The Untouchables. He hides out in a hotel, uses terrifying motivational ploys with his henchmen and even has his own, generic “I want him dead!” speech. So much the same, but well done by Penn.

Ryan Gosling is wonderful as the playboy cop who doesn’t care, but initially joins the Gangster Squad because (X) happens. Josh Brolin is the squeaky clean cop with the family who goes off the books to take down Cohen. The other Gangster Squad members are played by Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie (Yes, Papa Doc is in Gangster Squad. No matter what Anthony Mackie does during his career, he will always be Papa Doc to me.) Michael Peña (It’s so nice to see Peña play something besides a gangster or a dimwit or a dimwit gangster.) and Robert Patrick. You’ll know who is going to die as soon as you are introduced to them.

Emma Stone plays Kim Basinger / Madonna / Jessica Rabbit. Which brings me to this letter I wrote to Hollywood after I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love for the 14th time on HBO.

Dear Hollywood,

Please stop making movies where Ryan Gosling – a man so charming and attractive that married, heterosexual males have a visible crush on him – falls in love with Emma Stone. This is not meant to be a insult of Emma Stone. Emma Stone is adorable. And she is a great actress. Baby Goose tho? Baby Goose needs a certified bombshell. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not a realistic pair.


Seems fitting to send it again after Gangster Squad. It seems fitting to do a lot of stuff again after Gangster Squad. Like make a gangster movie with Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn. Yeah. That sounds awesome. Somebody should do that.

(I would also like to note that based on the Wikipedia article I read today, Gangster Squad is not that historically accurate.)

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