In Gangster Squad, it’s 1949 and the war is over but there’s another battle to be fought in Los Angeles against the man that wants to own the city, Mickey Cohen played by Sean Penn (This Must be the Place, The Tree of Life, Milk). Cohen’s bought off most the cops and high ranking officials in L.A so nobody even thinks about putting the bite on him, except Sergeant John O’Mara played by Josh Brolin (Men in Black III, True Grit, Jonah Hex) who keeps getting deterred by his superiors.

Gangster Squad Mickey Cohen

Mickey Cohen, the man L.A fears

O’Mara finally gets the opportunity he’s wanted when Police Chief Parker played by Nick Nolte (The Company You Keep, Warrior, Zookeeper) has finally had enough and sanctions O’Mara to get a squad together and go after Cohen not as cops but as rogue vigilantes. Gangster Squad follows this band of men trying to take down the biggest gangster in L.A and save their city before Mickey Cohen takes over all of it.


Gangster Squad tells a great story of O’Mara and his new squad trying to balance out taking down Cohen while holding together their personal lives and even though the story was a little predictable, the movie was greatly entertaining. The acting was top class with Sean Penn and Josh Brolin stealing the show as Cohen and O’Mara. Watching the film, you really got the sense that Cohen was a genuinely evil guy filled with greed that had to be stopped and Sean Penn gave a brilliant performance to show that. Brolin captured the drive and anger of O’Mara perfectly and at points where I disagreed with his decisions I could still empathise with him. The supporting cast in Gangster Squad also characterised their roles really well, especially Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March, Crazy Stupid Love, Drive) as Sergeant Jerry Wooters and Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Help, Crazy Stupid Love) as Grace Faraday.

Gangster Squad Grace and Jerry

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Grace and Jerry

Gangster Squad has great visuals which were especially prevalent during the slow motion shoot outs scattered within the movie. The action was paced very well and the soundtrack complimented each scene and the time period perfectly. The music had a very 40s feel to it while still having a mild modern action angle to giving Gangster Squad a really great atmosphere making the experience that much better. It was almost like a mix between the L.A Noire soundtrack the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows soundtrack, which may seem weird but it completely works.

Josh Brolin Gangster Squad

Sergeant O’Mara taking out the trash

Gangster Squad offers a great story, great action and superb acting making it a must see for any fan of gangster flicks. The story is a little bit predictable but terrifically played characters will draw you in and the action sequences will keep you wanting more. For action fans Gangster Squad is worth a watch and it’s a superb movie to kick off 2013 with.

In Theaters: 11th January 2013

Runtime: 1 hour 53 minutes

Rating: R (strong violence and language)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Distributor: Warner Brothers

Official Site:

What are your thoughts? Comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

  • Craig Kandiko

    Wow, 5 of my previous articles were referenced in this review.