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Gangster Squad - Film Review

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by Samples (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Melbourne, residing in the South-Eastern suburbs.
Published January 25th 2013
Gangster Squad, Gangster Squad.


I entered the cinema with a few personal expectations regarding the film: many of which were justified and some which were proven to be wrong.

Perhaps some detailing of the plot would be beneficial if one is keen on viewing Gangster Squad. The story revolves around Sgt John O'Mara, an honest to god policeman trying to counteract police corruption while being urged to take down mafia king-pin Mickey Cohen( played by Sean Penn). At this stage it is easy enough to gather the fact that the characterisation, typically through O'Mara, forms a notable link towards Frank Serpico from the film Serpico. In the sense that the plot follows a good-hearted officer in the ranks truly trying to deliver the bad guys to the big house. In accepting a task of disintegrating Cohen's operations, O'Mara forms a 'squad', consisting of a detective, a sharpshooter ( along with his accomplice) and lastly a wiretapper. I could sense some distinct elements from The Untouchables, some very distinct elements!

So what were my initial expectations then? I was more than certain that the film itself would consist of numerous action scenes incorporating shoot-outs, explosions and fist fights - this was something that anyone could gather from the trailers and the front-cover itself. So in some regard, I entered believing that the film would be enigmatically generic - and to some degree it was. Though I can say that the overall film was quite satisfying despite this claim. There are, of course, many, many, many.. action scenes revealing the group in action, specifically fighting desperate battles with the men of Mickey Cohen.

Though despite the film following upon the path of mayhem and high speed chases, the acting, particularly by Ryan Gosling who plays Sgt. Jerry Wooters, was very much satisfying. Josh Brolin should also receive props: he commits himself quite well to the role of a sergeant who still carries ruthless features in his character.

O'Mara and Jerry. Jerry with his trademark cigarette in mouth


The moderate yet sufficient depth into the characters is slightly reminiscent of a Scorsese film without the first-person retelling of the story, a feature which, to some extent, can be considered a trademark of Scorsese's work. I don't think it was exactly necessary for this type of a film, this is largely due to the vast amount of action and suspense incorporated throughout. The story line is expressed quite well and adds some extra substance to the plot itself.

The largest fault I could really ascertain was a few blemishes in the dialogue which were far from believable, certain scenes and events seem overly-generic and don't reel you in as a result of this.

On a personal level, I always find a place in myself which accepts any attempt in constructing a gangster story amidst the 20th century. It seems true that many of the greatest films of the last few decades have revolved around a mob-theme, and I believe that this film has its part in the broad line-up. Merge Serpico and The Untouchables together and you have the child: Gangster Squad.

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Why? A good viewing experience
When: Now Showing
Where: In cinemas
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