"Gangster Squad" Brings New Meaning To An Overused Genre

Bridget Reed Morawski ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in "Gangster Squad." © 2012 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in “Gangster Squad.” © 2012 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved
I’ve always been a huge fan of the gangster drama. Despite my rather girly personality, the money, the sex, and the dramatic murder scenes have always called to me. Not just any kind of gangster flick will satisfy me, and lately I have grown bored with the The Expendables kind of mob hits that have come onto the scene in recent seasons. Gangster Squad, the newest addition to the mobster flick genre, completely met my expectations.
This isn’t going to be a movie for everyone, though. For the serious movie buff, Gangster Squad doesn’t set itself apart from other gangster movies. But for the typical gangster girl like me, a girl looking for nothing more than some serious shoot-em-up scenes, this movie was one of the best of its kind I have seen in a long time.
The plotline basically goes like this: a fed-up cop gets the go-ahead from his fed-up superior officer to put together a team of fellow officers to destroy the gangster empire, run by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) that has taken over an intimidated and paralyzed 1950’s Los Angeles.
I loved the movie for the typical gangster elements. Gangster Squad also touched upon themes that hit close to home for audiences. Several characters, such as Officer Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), reflect on the so-called service they are providing to the Los Angeles-Burbank communities. What makes it righteous for one man to blow up cars and murder many, while another is condemned and locked away? What actions are necessary to repair the damage that Mickey Cohen and his minions have wrought upon the city? And who should really be performing these actions; is it really their place to destroy these criminal outlets?
I enjoyed this immensely, especially because of the tangibility of the theme. Most movies along this genre do not allow for reflection on the part of the character in regards to the mayhem that is necessary to rid the world of evil. It ruins the vibe. If Sylvester Stallone stops firing off another clip in his submachine gun in order to reflect on whether or not he ought to consider the repercussions of his actions, that doesn’t really lend to the nature of the genre. This leaves the audience with a simple movie with simple goals: there is bad in the world, so we destroy it. But to what cost? It angers me that, in many movies, this is ignored and left to the morals of the audience member to decide. Without guidance though, I find it personally very difficult to determine. Vigilantism in Gangster Squad mirrors the many forms of violence and chaos that they are in fact attempting to stamp out of Los Angeles’ future. With such a noble pursuit, they can’t possibly be in the wrong. Right?

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