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Gangster Squad | 2013 | R | - 5.9.7

A Brooklyn gangland boss (Sean Penn) runs the crime business in 1949 Los Angeles, profiting from illegal drugs, guns, prostitution and gambling. On the other side, the LAPD recruits top-secret undercover cops (Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling) to end his rein. Also with Emma Stone, Holt McCallany, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick and Giovanni Ribisi. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. [1:53]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - A police officer says to a woman in a bar that he likes to play Post Office (the kissing game), she says, "Let me guess: You want to take me away from all this and make an honest woman of me?" and he replies, "No, ma'am. I was just hoping to take you to bed"; we later see them in bed (his bared shoulders and arms are visible) with her lying on top of him under covers (we see her bare back and the side of her breast) and sex is implied.
 A woman goes into a room expecting to attend an audition but she is threatened with gang rape by three man; another man comes and interrupts them (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A man sits in a bathtub as his wife sponges off his bare shoulders, arms and upper chest and she tells him that he is "good in the sack" and he smiles as he kisses her and the scene ends. A man and a woman kiss briefly, fully clothed in a couple of scenes.
 Men watch exotic dancers in a bar and we see the dancers wearing lace-and-sequin bras and panties while shimmying and writhing to music; one woman wears black tassel pasties instead of a bra and men hoot, wolf-whistle and shout at the women.
 In a hallway scene, we see a half dozen women wearing light sleeveless slips, with one woman in a camisole, panties, garters and thigh-high hose (we see some cleavage and the tops of her thighs) as three police officers walk them out of a building. A woman's photo on a magazine features a bare midriff below a tight, wide bikini top that reveals a little cleavage. A drawing on a pin-up calendar features a woman wearing a camisole, panties, stockings and garters, revealing her bare midriff, belly button, thighs and cleavage. A club singer wears a shoulder-less blouse with puffy sleeves and a bare midriff. In a bar, one man asks another, "Who's the tomato?" (referring to a woman) and we see a woman wearing a floor length dress slit up to the top of the thigh revealing her bare back and shoulders. A woman is pregnant and we see her extremely swollen belly; in one scene, she lies in a bathtub with a newborn baby in her arms, having just delivered alone at home (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). In close-up black and white, we see a bare-chested boxer. A man wearing a fedora, no shirt and a long towel wrapped at the waist to show his bare abdomen and belly button sits in a chair while watching blurry film footage of two boxers in a ring.
 A man shouts, using crude terms, when police take away several women who are working for him as prostitutes. A man tells a teen boy to worry only about getting his hand up a girl's skirt and not about gangsters.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 9 - A man stands in front of the famous Hollywoodland sign at night and forces another man to watch as another man is chained between two cars headed in different directions and when the cars drive away, the victim is torn in half at the waist in a long shot that shows some blood; we hear the victim scream as he dies and two growling coyotes sniff around and lick the dead man's crumpled corpse (we see a little blood) as the first man tells the other men to go back East and never return.
 A man shouts and stomps his feet throughout the film as he threatens his cohorts with death: in one scene, he tells them to stop police interference and to "Kill them all. Kill their families, their kids, their friends, their dogs, their cats" and orders two thugs to be killed with beatings that we see as they begin on screen and end off screen with screams (we see blood splattered on walls and reflected in a blurred mirror); in another scene, a man switches on a 2-foot long drill and moves off screen to drill a thug in the face and head (we see a shadow of this in a broken mosaic mirror).
 Three men walk into the back yard of a man's home at night and demand to see a woman in his house: the man says she is gone and knocks out two of the men with punches as they run at him but the other man shoots him in the stomach and we see a bloody wound as he falls into a swimming pool (we see him from inside the pool floating face down with his eyes open); the other man shoots him in the back of the head from above and the water turns red with blood.
 We see a shootout in a hotel lobby with loud Tommy gun fire and thousands of bullet casings, blazing gun muzzles and flying shrapnel (some is in slow motion close-up); one shot goes through a man's face and head to splatter a large red mass onto a marble wall as the man falls out of the frame, several other men fall dead with a little blood around chest wounds, and bullets demolish a large Christmas tree and boxed gifts as well as some ornaments bursting toward the camera lens in slow motion. A shootout in front of a nightclub destroys several cars, there are several men with bloody wounds, and kills a teen boy with a large bloody wound to the shoulder and chest (the boy dies in the arms of a crying man); a detective walks into the club, draws a pistol and aims it at a crime boss, but another man grabs and tosses the cop into the men's room and tells him to go home. A shootout occurs as young boys throw lighted firecrackers, adding to the sparks and noise, and a laundry truck parks at a curb and gasoline is released into a puddle underneath until a man tosses a burning cigarette into the puddle to create a flaming explosion that knocks several men to the ground; one man dies as a woman cries over him in the street and Tommy gun fire breaks out in a prolonged fight scene and several men fall dead, with some blood showing around wounds. During an extended car chase Tommy guns and handguns are fired between vehicles, with cars attempting to run one another off the road, a rocket launcher shoots grenades into several cars filled with men, blowing off fenders and doors and exploding one car in flames and smoke as it flips toward the camera; one vehicle falls into a deep ditch, police officers pull the two men inside to the ground and shoot them in the legs, telling them to retire from dealing heroin.
 In a bar a man puts his hand against a wall and a second man throws a knife into it, drawing blood and pinning it to the wall; the first man shouts in pain and a police officer sarcastically tells him to pull the knife straight out so as to do as little damage as possible. A man in an elevator fights three men, dropping them all to the floor; he enters a hotel room and fights three more men (all of their faces are bloodied by punches) and he frees a woman closed up in a Murphy bed in the wall.
 Throughout the film, several scenes include gunfights between police and gangsters, with fistfights, kicking, grappling, razors flashing, knives thrown into men's chests leaving bloody wounds and significant lengthy rounds of Tommy gun and handgun fire; we see blood and gore as men fall dead on sidewalks and the steps of hotels and office buildings after shootings, one man is strangled in close-up with a garrote and falls dead and another man is slammed in the head and gut with a lead pipe and falls off screen before we can see the damage.
 Outside a hotel, gangsters and undercover police officers shoot one another with Tommy guns, destroying several cars and killing several of them with a little blood spilled, an officer calls out, "Light 'em up" to begin additional shooting and an officer jumps onto the back of a car carrying a crime boss and shoots the driver, who drives into a fountain and is then shot dead by another police officer; two men fight bare handed and both suffer extremely bloodied faces before one man knocks the other man to the ground after driving his face through a car window and driving a fist into his face a dozen times (we see the battered man with a bloodied, swollen, poorly stitched face as he receives a mug shot and we hear that he went to Alcatraz).
 Hooded men break into a man's home and use guns with silencers to shoot and kill the man, his wife and his maid, who all fall motionless to the floor. Men execute a drive-by shooting at a woman's home, filling it with bullet holes as she rolls out of bed and crawls to the bathroom; her husband rushes in later to find a trail of blood and finds his wife safe in the tub with their baby, which was born during the attack (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) and the next morning's newspaper headline includes: MOB MASSACRE.
 In a public lunchroom, two men approach another man and a woman at a table; the man stands up, knocks both of the other men out, takes a bottle of acid from one of them and pours it onto the man's crotch, which we see burn with smoke as the victim screams, "You'll get yours!" Three men are locked into an elevator by their boss and we see a wall of flame shoot up the elevator shaft and hear screams as the camera cuts to a street scene.
 A woman goes into a room expecting to attend an audition but she is instead slapped, forcibly thrown onto a bed, held down and threatened with gang rape by three man; another man comes and interrupts them. A plainclothes police officer questions an informant on the street, twisting the man's arm and hand until blood appears on one finger. Undercover police officers are arrested by a sheriff and break out of their holding cell amid a lot of gunfire and fist fighting (several men suffer bloodied and bruised faces); the next day, the officers practice shooting at a desert shooting range, firing a lot of ammunition. Two detectives argue briefly and one punches the other in the eye, cutting it, with a little blood showing.
 Late at night, undercover police officers throw grenades into a paint store and blow it up in a close-up of flames and smoke as the front window explodes outward into the street. Undercover police blow up a car that contains spools of telephone cable and telephones destined for use in an illegal gambling business. Undercover police break into the back room of a nightclub where a telephone gambling operation was underway, shooting up the phones and knocking guards and other men unconscious. Undercover police smash up an illegal casino with sledgehammers as gamblers scream and run out. A man destroys his own living room in a rage over a failed business and he smashes pictures, vases and furniture.
 A man and a woman argue at their breakfast table about what they want from life and he pounds the table with both fists while she walks out of the house to end the scene. A man talks about learning how to fight in WWII; we hear that he earned two Purple Hearts and his wife says it's time for him to stop fighting and he replies that he must take out a crime boss.
 A boxer punches a heavy bag.


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LANGUAGE 7 - About 25 F-words and its derivatives, 3 sexual references, 5 scatological terms, 11 anatomical terms, 19 mild obscenities, name-calling (dumb, garbage, fool, knucklehead, Mickey Mouse, Hopalong, circus, redskins, smart mouth, Bible-thumping boozer, whaps), stereotypical references to gangsters, corrupt cops and politicians, vigilantes, men, women, boxers, newspapermen, war heroes, Mexicans, Jews, Native Americans, Italians, cowboys, nerds, 11 religious profanities, 4 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - A gangster explains to cohorts that he is in control of all the Mexican dope in California and will receive a large shipment of heroin, and we see a train yard where bricks of heroin are being loaded from a train to a small army truck. Several nightclub scenes feature men and woman drinking glasses of beer or wine and martinis, a police chief drinks often from a hip flask of alcohol in his office, an undercover cop drinks from a flask on a job, a police chief brings two cases of beer to a policemen's cookout, we see two men drink from a bottle of whiskey on a front porch at night, several scenes include men drinking beer from bottles at home and in hotel rooms and during card games, five police detectives drink bottled beer in a small dark tavern at the corner of a short bar, a dozen sheriffs and deputies drink beer as they gamble with civilians in a casino in a smoky room where several men smoke cigarettes, and a marquee outside a club advertises "DINING, DRINKING." A close-up shows a man's thumb igniting a metal cigarette lighter as he smiles and close-up of a woman's face as she blows cigarette smoke into the air, a man lights a cigarette lighter several times during the film in a nervous habit, a woman smokes a cigarette in her house twice, and dozens of scenes include men and women lighting and smoking cigarettes (at home and on the street, in restaurants and cafes, in nightclubs, outside theaters, in offices, in hotel lobbies and hotel rooms, in elevators, at a cookout and in automobiles).


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Crime, gangsters, war heroes, murder, vigilantes, special forces, police corruption, justice, determination, courage, loyalty, family.

MESSAGE - It takes a tough crew to fight organized crime.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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