Metascore
40

Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 38
  2. Negative: 10 out of 38
  1. 75
    Gangster Squad is a gang war drama built on Western conventions, a rootin' tootin', Camel-smokin', whiskey swillin' shoot'em up.
  2. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jan 8, 2013
    75
    The best thing about Gangster Squad is how they got the 1940s accoutrements right.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jan 7, 2013
    70
    The cops play things as dirty as the crooks in Gangster Squad, 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 10, 2013
    63
    Penn's over-the-top tirades and bullying threats are still there - it's a wild and woolly performance that isn't always as menacing as perhaps the actor intended it to be.
  5. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 10, 2013
    63
    Gangster Squad provides a welcome burst of heat and color, even if those qualities are more illusory than real and subject to a fast fade.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Jan 10, 2013
    60
    For all the guns and gore, it's as breezy and uncritical as a tale from the True Detective magazine that the cops can't help reading.
  7. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jan 10, 2013
    60
    Instead of expanding their sights, Fleischer and Beall narrow them, into a repetitive and increasingly exhausting series of shootouts. By the end, those guns might as well be held by extras, rather than some of the most talented actors of our time.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jan 7, 2013
    60
    Made up of synthetics rather than whole cloth, this lurid concoction superficially gets by thanks to a strong cast and jazzy period detail, but its cartoonish contrivances fail to convince and lack any of the depth, feeling or atmosphere of genre stand-bearers like "L.A. Confidential."
  9. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Jan 7, 2013
    60
    Typified by Penn's blustery performance, Gangster Squad is sleek, stylish but superficial. Easy on the eye, even easier on the brain, it doesn't last long in the memory.
  10. Reviewed by: Nick de Semlyen
    Jan 7, 2013
    60
    Sean Penn's not been this fun since Jeff Spicoli and there's plenty of rip-roaring action, but Gangster Squad proves a minor entry in the annals of LA noir.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jan 11, 2013
    50
    Penn is always entertaining when he's playing characters drunk with depravity. Gangster Squad could use more of him.
  12. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Jan 11, 2013
    50
    The irony is worth noting: Back when it was really 1949, Hollywood made noir with teeth; this is nougat with pretensions.
  13. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jan 11, 2013
    50
    It's the cinematic equivalent of Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name: You know in your heart it's a crappy song, and every wince-inducing line is an affront to your intelligence, but hey, it's on the radio, so you turn up the volume and sing along anyway.
  14. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jan 11, 2013
    50
    A cartoonish 1940s shoot-'em-up that's impossible to take seriously.
  15. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jan 10, 2013
    50
    Josh Brolin plays the leader of the gangster squad as a kind of dedicated dunce, which is appropriate considering their clumsy antics. Ryan Gosling has more nuance as his right-hand man, but Emma Stone is completely out of her element as a slinky film noir heroine, a walking anachronism.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jan 10, 2013
    50
    In the last five minutes the film shifts gears and offers a tribute to law enforcement. But this tacked-on resolution is as sticky and fake as Sean Penn's make-up job.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jan 10, 2013
    50
    As a capable imitation of better movies by Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma and Roman Polanski – it's reasonably successful entertainment.
  18. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Jan 10, 2013
    50
    Gangster Squad is an almost movie. 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. So it sits there in between - loud, flashy, and unnecessary.
  19. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 10, 2013
    50
    A triumph of production design but a pretty dull kill-'em-up otherwise.
  20. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    Jan 9, 2013
    50
    Despite the unrelenting action and the terrific cast, Gangster Squad comes up more scattered than successful.
  21. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 9, 2013
    50
    It never really comes together in a satisfying way, and given the talent involved, that adds up to a big disappointment.
  22. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 9, 2013
    50
    To be fair, this tawdry dose of pulp fiction ("inspired by real events") is not a complete waste of time. It offers the marginal pleasure of an all-star cast slumming their way through a thicket of routine plotting, almost laughable dialogue and the constant blaze of tommy guns.
  23. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 9, 2013
    50
    Brolin and Gosling are both supposed to be playing World War II veterans who bring their knowledge of battle into the tough turf of the streets, but that's just a concept that the sketchy, half-baked script tosses out there.
  24. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Feb 27, 2013
    42
    The violence is so indifferently presented that it has no kick; it’s not grim or graphic enough to shock, but it doesn’t rev us up, either. The picture’s various shoot-’em-up sequences are so generically conceived and shot that each one is indistinguishable from the next – by the movie’s end, they may as well all collapse into an exhausted heap.
  25. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jan 10, 2013
    42
    Very few will remember it in a few months, which is probably just fine with the folks who made it.
  26. 40
    The period thriller Gangster Squad plays like an untalented 12-year-old's imitation of Brian DePalma's "The Untouchables."
  27. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jan 10, 2013
    40
    The soul of the era is missing, and with it any reason to care. In Fleischer's hands, the high-stakes shootouts are as stylish as a GQ spread, but it's nearly impossible to figure out who's zoomin' who.
  28. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jan 9, 2013
    40
    Though based partly on actual events, Ruben Fleischer's ludicrous shoot-'em-up plays fast and loose with the facts, and plenty else besides.
  29. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jan 10, 2013
    38
    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. A lot of movies.
  30. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 10, 2013
    38
    It begins as energetic, clichéd nonsense and ends as irritating, clichéd nonsense.
  31. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Jan 9, 2013
    33
    Gangster Squad aims for the pop-operatic intensity of "The Untouchables," but ends up feeling like a savage, simple-minded comic strip.
  32. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jan 19, 2013
    30
    The over-all result is a misstep for Fleischer. [21 Jan. 2013, p. 78]
  33. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 10, 2013
    30
    Mr. Beall, a former LAPD cop, has written a script so devoid of feeling that the cartoons blur into thin line drawings, while what's been done with the marvelous Ms. Stone - i.e. next to nothing - is downright criminal.
  34. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Jan 8, 2013
    30
    The proximity of horrible headlines scarcely matters - released on any day of any calendar year, Gangster Squad would be a crime against cinematic sensibility.
  35. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 10, 2013
    25
    This movie made my ears hurt. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy could have turned this pulp into insinuating jazz. What's here is a cartoonish bore.
  36. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Jan 8, 2013
    25
    In lieu of any sharp insight into the period and its notorious figures, the film's brash, ultraviolent encounters instead build a showy exterior with nothing of import left standing.
  37. Reviewed by: Glenn Heath Jr.
    Jan 8, 2013
    25
    Ruben Fleischer's film is a perfect example of Hollywood hypocrisy, something to be ignored diligently.
  38. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jan 10, 2013
    10
    His (Fleischer) first feature, "Zombieland," was a half-witty genre parody. This one might be described as genre zombie-ism: the hysterical, brainless animation of dead clichés reduced to purposeless, compulsive killing. Too self-serious to succeed as pastiche, it has no reason for being beyond the parasitic urge to feed on the memories of other, better movies.
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 258 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 76
  2. Negative: 11 out of 76
  1. Jan 14, 2013
    10
    Angels: This is a good gangster movie. The dialog is tough, and smart, the characters are interesting, The plot is exciting, the scenery and costumes are very stylish, and the violence is, well, very violent. What is not to like. I have an admission to make. This movie is really an 8/9, but I gave it a 10, because I wanted to raise its average to combat the 'haters'. Because of the negative reviews I almost did not go to see the movie, but my buddy out-voted me, and I am very glad that he did. Did I say that Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling knock the ball out of the park? Look, those boys really get into character, and I am a sucker for pretty boy Ryan. Now, the critics say, this movie is no LA Confidential. Which must be true, because it's called 'Gangster Squad'. A very enjoyable night out. Full Review »
  2. Jan 13, 2013
    10
    I dont get why critics dont like it. It is a great movie with great action and good cast .
  3. Jan 14, 2013
    10
    A movie like this should be rated on it's entertainment value, and this movie is brilliant. I don't understand why people don't like it? It is an all round superb movie, in fact i loved it so much i'm going to see it again. It was very emotional at some parts and shocking at others. No major issue stood out at me at all. I love that era and location in history and this movie was perfect for entertaining that. Full Review »