Gangster Squad was originally scheduled to debut last September, but after the horrific movie theater shooting in Colorado back in July, WB pushed the film’s release to January. Many people, including myself, thought that it ruined any Oscar chances it had. With a cast like this (Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone) it must be an instant classic.
Not so fast.
Director Ruben Fleischer does his best “The Untouchables meets L.A. Confidential“, but instead ends up with a film that resembles an R-rated version of Dick Tracy. Not a complete disaster, but far from a gangster classic.
Before I continue on with my review of Gangster Squad, lets see some wiseguy trailers.
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO GANGSTER SQUAD:
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – Dueling Vegas magicians played by Steve Carell and Jim Carrey? What’s not to like? Think of it as a comedic version of The Prestige. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Star Trek Into Darkness – The title has darkness in it and so does this trailer. This might be even better than its predecessor. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Lone Ranger – With Johnny Depp playing Tonto, we will have as many laughs as we do action scenes. This trailer is growing on me. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Oblivion – A very mysterious trailer that should make for a few sci-fi film twists and turns. I Will Be There Opening Night!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
Gangster Squad takes place in Los Angeles during the late 1940′s. Eastern gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) practically rules the entire city. A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants (Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling) work together in an effort to take down this ruthless mob king.
This is a “by the numbers” crime-thriller. The trite dialogue and cliched characters, keep the movie from ever reaching true cinematic success. It does have some major style and flair to spare, with L.A. looking beautiful and the cast appearing like they were dropped in from a time machine.
Brolin isn’t given much to do with his lead role, except play the same old hard-nosed cop we have seen a thousand times before. Gosling finally has a poor performance on his resume. He doesn’t look or sound half as tough as his character is meant to be. He does have terrific chemistry with Stone (I feel like they are always in a movie together), even though she’s more adorably cute than her sultry character needs to be. Nolte doesn’t have many scenes as police chief, but his froggy voice does lend the film some gravitas.
The always brilliant Penn is the real reason to see Gangster Squad. His portrayal of the scrappy thug Cohen is a delight. Penn doesn’t chew the scenery, he engulfs it. As good as he is in this, he never lives up to a “DeNiro as Capone” type of turn.
The film excels when it stops trying to be a gritty film noir and simply focuses on entertaining us. Which it succeeds at especially during the action scenes and the shootouts. Tommy guns are still the coolest looking weapons in the movies.
Gangster Squad will never be confused for a great gangster flick, but it’s the kind of glossy fluff that is pleasing to the eye. In the end, it’s just a January movie that you will enjoy right now, but forget all about by February.
I give GANGSTER SQUAD *** out of ****.