Gangster Squad takes audiences back to the 1940’s when big gangsters such as Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel ramrodded control over people and businesses that offered lucrative opportunities.
It's 1949 in Los Angeles and mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has deserted his birth state of New York to take over control of L.A. Hiring a bunch of goons isn't hard in times when jobs are tough to find, and being part of a mob is attractive to all sorts of guys.
Mickey is a smart dude and if theres any doubt to the extent he will go to be mob boss then just watch the opening scene in this film. Thats when he chains a closed mouthed-pigeon to two different cars facing the opposite way from each other and demands they take off in different directions. Mickey grew up in a boxing ring where anything was fair. His mentality is the more brutal the fight, the bigger the purse.
Mickey knows his own goons aren't enough for his plan, and in those days it was easy to buy off the cops. Mickey gets a few of them on his payroll, but hits pay dirt when he also locks in Judge Carter (John Aylward) along with other supposed trustful servants. Citizens are upset and demand Carter do something about the violence that rocks the streets every night. But Carter can't control the situation and wants no
one to harass, arrest or bother Mickey Cohen.
Fortunately L.A. police Chief William Parker is not afraid to take a stand. Nick Nolte – stuffed so tightly he looks like a polar bear in a neck brace – plays Parker, who has a plan up his sleeve. He gets together a squad of six men with impressive backgrounds and daring stamped on their foreheads.
Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) is chosen to head the Squad. He's a man of principle and just back from the war. O’Mara is married to Connie (Mireille Enos) who is expecting and knows her husband to the core. She realizes he faces eminent danger but his desire to make L.A. a better place to live is very important to him. Fight fire with fire serves her well as she actually looks over the profiles of the five other squad members and recommends what turns out to be the perfect picks for men with both brain and brawn.
Finishing out the squad is: Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) who is resistant to joining the squad until Mickey’s attacks get personal; Officer Conwell Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) a technology whiz before his time; Officer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie) a pro with a switchblade that wasn't afraid to stand up to the thugs in his neighborhood; Officer Navidad Ramirez (Michael Pena) a rookie being educated by Office Max Kennard (Robert Patrick), a ghost of the wild west who can outdo a machine gun with a six-shooter.