Review: Gangster Squad

The opening scene of Gangster Squad visually tells the story of a rising mafia man, Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn

Anna Stayduhar 

The beginning graphic scene of violence and harsh knockouts from Mickey Cohen demonstrates his aggression and determination to make a forceful impression and to influence others. The audience cannot help but feel he is a heartless thug who will kill whoever and whatever stands in his way of making Los Angeles his mafia empire. The film takes on even more suspense as Grace Faraday’s encounters with Cohen’s entourage transpire to dangerous liaisons at Slapsy Maxie’s. This role was played by Emma Stone.

Not just another gangster film

While the trailer displays rapid shootings, car chases, witty comebacks, dazzling cinematography of Los Angeles in 1949, it is not merely another stereotypical gangster film. On the contrary, it displays characters portraying the ‘everyday man’ which embodies morality. They also conveyed perseverance to fight against what is unjust, which is Cohen and his gang. Los Angeles is divided between Mafia lords and average citizens. This is why the police force and in particular Sgt. John O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin, take on the roles as gangsters to fight Cohen. Brolin’s character gathers a group of men specialising in hunting down Cohen and his group by forging a secret war against them. In the midst of the scandal, love blossoms between Ms Faraday and Sgt. Jerry Wooters, played by Ryan Gosling. The film itself is based on a true story.

 Too much bloodshed?

Although there are many graphic scenes where Cohen or his followers are executing men, that failed to deliver the service they were ordered to carry out, it is not a film to cringe at if you are afraid of too much violence. Some of the scenes were difficult to watch but also believable at the same time. One scene, which stands out is when a shoe shine boy is shot during a street shooting and Gosling’s character takes action and murders the man who killed the boy. Other than that, it was not too frightening but very hard to watch all the same. 

The overall film has some surprising twists and turns as well as heart stopping moments. There is a scene where Sgt. O’Mara’s heavily pregnant wife is shot at and the crime scene and what follows is brutal. The acting is superb and the visual presentation is pleasing to the eye… who couldn’t adore the style of the late 1940s?

Head to the cinema and buy yourself a ticket to see Gangster Squad today, you won’t be disappointed. Premier seating is advisable for a good view of the screen!  

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