Gangster Squad Reviews

Top Critic
Tom Charity
CNN.com
February 5, 2013
Gangster Squad looks the part, but it's so superficial it practically evaporates before our eyes.
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Anthony Lane
New Yorker
January 21, 2013
Some of the clothes and makeup feel as glossy as paint, but, those aside, we seem to browsing through a display of secondhand goods.
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Ricardo Baca
Denver Post
January 11, 2013
It might sound like a stretch, imagining Penn playing that intense, indiosyncratic a villain. But the lauded, veteran actor pulls a left hook, then a right, and after a wild bodyshot at the tail end of the film, you see the true mania behind his eyes.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
January 11, 2013
Director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriter Will Beall can't decide whether to make a spoof or a serious drama, so they wrongheadedly attempt both.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
January 11, 2013
Gangster Squad" is a highly stylized, pulp-fiction period piece based on true events.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
January 11, 2013
Despite a cast of gifted actors, lush 1940s production design and suave costumes, it's bereft of inspiration, plowing familiar terrain past the point of tedium to impatience.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
January 11, 2013
Gangster Squad is to the great tradition of the Scarface genre what plastic is to cutlery - tiny, imitative, disposable.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
January 11, 2013
Any resemblance to history here is restricted to some snazzy spectator shoes and cans of Schlitz beer.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Adam Graham
Detroit News
January 11, 2013
"Gangster Squad" talks tough and hits hard, but it is a victim of its own brute force.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
January 11, 2013
A cartoonish 1940s shoot-'em-up that's impossible to take seriously.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
January 10, 2013
Director Ruben Fleischer leans hard on the violence card, but with little return in the way of excitement, and at the expense of character and story.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
January 10, 2013
Slick, sick, self-consciously stylish and defiantly shallow, Gangster Squad is one of those movies you can't talk about without invoking other (often better) movies.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
January 10, 2013
Gangster Squad is The Untouchables moved west and cheesed up.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
January 10, 2013
A triumph of production design but a pretty dull kill-'em-up otherwise.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
January 10, 2013
Apart from the gore -- and there's plenty -- this is basically L.A. Confidential without the script.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
January 10, 2013
A bullet-riddled bloodbath with an all-star cast, Gangster Squad is a lurid and ludicrous Mob thriller that glorifies a gangland lifestyle.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
January 10, 2013
There's only so much style can do to spiff up shriveled substance.
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
January 10, 2013
"Gangster Squad" would have been more fun as an animated feature, with fanciful animals in the principal roles.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
January 10, 2013
When the gun smoke clears, the body count is finished and the blood is mopped up, "Gangster Squad" is little more than another Hollywood wannabe overshadowed by the legacy of "L.A. Confidential"...
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
January 10, 2013
A complete whitewashing of one of the most vicious and racist paramilitary organizations in American history: the Los Angeles Police Department.
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 10, 2013
Gangster Squad's violence has a graphic, contemporary feel that's at odds with the vintage crime pics the film wants to celebrate. This isn't the heavy-handed CG-noir of Sin City, but even so, it feels fake.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
January 10, 2013
The actors do their best, but they're bringing their "A" game to a decidedly "B" production, with Penn being the most enthusiastic of this game crew.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
January 10, 2013
Gangster Squad may be loosely based on truth -- the takedown of notorious Los Angeles crime lord Mickey Cohen 60 years ago -- but it feels about as real as a mob-themed costume party.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
January 10, 2013
Gangster Squad [is] a mob epic that flushes a classy cast (Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone) down the sinkhole of creative bankruptcy.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
January 10, 2013
It's almost terrible. It's almost entertaining. But it's missing the shameless insanity of a wonderfully bad movie, and the particular vision, point of view, and coherence of some very good ones.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
January 10, 2013
What's missing from Gangster Squad is a core, a point of view, something to patch together the cheese and carnage.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
January 10, 2013
Fleischer's noir-influenced focus on O'Mara and Cohen offers hints of interesting commentary about Hollywood's historical visions of good and evil. But it's a strong starting point that fizzles by the finale.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
January 10, 2013
Its determination to follow The Untouchables' template (without the benefit of a David Mamet script) makes it a little too predictable to be memorable.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
January 10, 2013
A good-looking cast and strong action sequences are just enough to forgive the cornball script.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Jeff Shannon
Chicago Sun-Times
January 10, 2013
By the time it fades to black, "Gangster Squad" has squandered most of its early promise.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Nathan Rabin
AV Club
January 10, 2013
Yet another dispiriting reminder that while the MPAA can be squeamish and hypocritical about depictions of sexuality, filmmakers can nevertheless flood the screen with enough carnage for a world war or two, yet walk away with an R rating.
Full Review | Original Score: D+
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
January 10, 2013
It's all just noise disguised as entertainment.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Soren Anderson
Seattle Times
January 10, 2013
All the people in the picture are playing at their characters, rather than actually playing the characters. Everyone looks grand in their period clothes, but they're making make-believe that is not in the least bit believable.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
January 9, 2013
If nothing else, it's way better than you'd expect any movie released by a major studio in January would ever be.
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
January 9, 2013
Bits and pieces here and there entertain. But it never really comes together in a satisfying way, and given the talent involved, that adds up to a big disappointment.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Keith Uhlich
Time Out
January 9, 2013
Though based partly on actual events, Ruben Fleischer's ludicrous shoot-'em-up plays fast and loose with the facts, and plenty else besides.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
January 9, 2013
The movie, as criminal drama, goes nowhere.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Randy Myers
San Jose Mercury News
January 9, 2013
As they'd say back in the day: Sweetheart, give me rewrite.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
January 9, 2013
'So it's a shame that "Gangster Squad" is nothing like a good old-fashioned gangster picture. While it's a period piece that clearly relishes its evocation of neon-bright Los Angeles in 1949, it's hardly old-fashioned. And it's no good at all ...
Full Review | Original Score: 1/5
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
January 9, 2013
Despite the flaws and the occasional corn, this is still one of the most exhilarating and entertaining action films in recent memory.
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Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice
January 9, 2013
A crime against cinematic sensibility.
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Peter Debruge
Variety
January 7, 2013
An impressively pulpy underworld-plunger that embellishes on a 1949 showdown between a dedicated team of LAPD officers and Mob-connected Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) for control of the city.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
January 7, 2013
These are good actors, but aside from Brolin and Gosling, they're barely given any special moments of their own to make their marks here.