Movie Review: “Gangster Squad” – As Tired as Nolte Looks

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel January 16, 2013


The title “Gangster Squad” definitely sounds like a lame reimagining, or at most a parody, of a time period where “gangsters” meant dudes in slick backed hair with tommy guns and suave suits. And guess what? It totally comes across as a parody (even though it’s definitely not) of the smooth talking, one-liner perfectionists of the period in both the cops and the gangsters. I can’t even begin to articulate how mind-blowingly annoying it is throughout the movie.

“I just wanted to take you to bed.”

The above quote is the least smooth thing Ryan Gosling has ever uttered. It’s not quippy or charming, it’s uninspired and that cute smirk can’t change how lame it is. It also can’t change the fact that he speaks in a strange Michael Jackson-esque falsetto for the whole movie. But he’s not the only ultra-lame character in this movie, he has the rest of the cast to join him. The award for the character who garners the most eye-rolls belongs to (without question) Sean Penn’s Mickey Cohen. He utters such gems as “Los Angeles is my destiny!” and “Here comes Santy Claus!” He says the last one before he starts firing his tommy gun ruthlessly at Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), who happens to be behind a Christmas tree. Did I also mention that the shoot-out was in slow-mo? No? Well, isn’t that just the melted whipped cream on the shit-filled pie. If this movie had a drinking game that had a rule which made you drink every time someone on screen made you sigh or eye-roll, everyone would be drunk within the first half hour.

Why Does This Movie Even Exist?

Ok, so it’s  a movie that surrounds John O’Mara who is assigned to take down L.A’s biggest gangster, Mickey Cohen. Nick Nolte plays himself as Police Chief Parker who puts O’Mara off the books to get a gang together to essentially kill them all. So, O’Mara and the other cops he recruits with the help of his lovely wife Connie O’Mara (Mireille Enos)- who is the only decent character in the movie- engage in shenanigans with shoot outs and terribly uninspired, poorly shot action scenes (remember – SLOW MO!).

sean penn

The level of glorification of guns is so out of tune with what’s going on in the world (especially the U.S.) that it’s borderline offensive. Officer Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) explicitly even asks what makes them different then the gangsters they’re killing if all they’re doing to get power is shoot and kill as well? First, the fact this question was explicitly stated is a clue to how terrible the script is, and second, yeah, he’s got a point. That’s the question many people are asking, but in the movie, the good guys still win with a lot of help from guns.


I am so tired of the stereotype of men smashing things out of anger, frustration, sadness, or whatever emotion they’re feeling because they’re MEN and MEN don’t cry or smile or talk about why they may be upset. It’s outdated and while this movie takes place in 1949, there were no subtleties to the male characters, ever. They were either suave smooth talkers (or tried to be) or angry men breaking things or shooting things. However, there was one scene where Connie O’Mara smashed some plates out of anger, so….progress?

Men also drink hard liquor, smoke, and eat steak. Cheers for having all of the stereotypes gentlemen.

Men also drink hard liquor, smoke, and eat steak. Cheers for having all of the stereotypes gentlemen.


This movie is lame from the odd lighting that makes everyone look like wax replicas of themselves to the uninspired dialogue and undeveloped characters. They’re not even really characters, Grace (Emma Stone) just goes around in pretty dresses and the characters you’re supposed to feel some sympathy for end up being killed because HAHA, jokes on you audience. With such a packed cast I can only assume this was not the movie they signed up for, or that major script changes happened after they signed on or something because this dialogue is tired and old. If “Gangster Squad” was a parody it would be a delightful commentary on the stereotypes of men, women, and minorities as well as on the ever-present gun debate. However, this movie is apparently serious so it’s just not good. I’m still trying to get over the fact I spent money on this movie.

My Rating: 3/10

gangster squad poster

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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