Gangster Squad: “the battle for the soul of Los Angeles”

Sometimes, I wish I’d been born in the 1940s. The music, the suits, the cars. The buildings, the clothes, and even the (tommy) guns. The very lifestyle people led in those days. It just seemed better, somehow, you know?

Truth be told, that’s a very idealistic view; an extension of the American dream we Brits seem to have. But, it’s for this very reason I can’t get enough of any film depicting that special post-war Hollywood era. And, for me, Gangster Squad captured this beautifully.

It’s a film about the darker, seedier side of Los Angeles, a far cry from the crime-free picture I’ve painted above, but films of this nature – capturing this particular snippet of time – are so few and far between that I didn’t really mind. And as it goes, Gangster Squad was quite a good mob-themed flick, which is why I was very surprised to see such mixed reviews.

I genuinely can’t work out what’s not to love. The film is supported by a stellar cast, the storyline is slick and it’s action-packed throughout. Gangster Squad is a little gory in places for a 15-cert, sure, but the violence doesn’t for a moment seem out of place.

It’s been described as ‘The Untouchables goes west’ by more than one publication, but that’s rather unfair. Gangster Squad is more than capable of standing on its own two feet. It’s not the finest snapshot of this vibrant historical period that I’ve grown to love, yet that’s okay.

We’ve been spoilt by a collection of truly fantastic gangster films during the past few decades. Not every film can match Goodfellas or The Godfather. Does that mean we should disregard Gangster Squad entirely? No. Of course not.

Perhaps I’m biased, but, for me, there’s room for Gangster Squad near the top of the mob film genre. It’s an uncomplicated story of good triumphing over evil and doesn’t try to be anything cleverer than that, making it well worth a watch.

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