Gangster Squad Movie Review

If you are in the mood for a dramatic action thriller or something far less gripping, perhaps a bad comic book translation about 1940’s and ‘50s gangsters, then look no further. GANGSTER SQUAD is a schizophrenic mess of a movie with one foot firmly planted in each genre, it never fully commits to a specific direction.  The bad guys are straight out of a comic book, the good guys are morally questionable, the editing is disjointed and the script never comes together. I cannot for the life of me figure out how the filmmakers captured some of the best acting talent to participate in this flick.

Sean Penn in Gangster Squad

Without GANGSTER SQUAD’s all star cast, there would have been very little to compliment in this picture; and the compliments are a bit of a stretch as is since the cast did not perform to the level we’ve come to demand as a result of seeing their previous performances.  GANGSTER SQUAD is tricky in that regard, you overlook the flaws because you like the actors so much. In costume, Josh Brolin looks the part of a ‘40‘s sergeant, has a great opening action sequence and as the picture develops, viewers realize this character is flat. The emotions, that one should feel at key moments in this character’s plight against the corrupt, are not there.  Audiences have seen the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in CRAZY STUPID LOVE and will be disappointed with the lack of sizzle between these two.  In a key dramatic reunion, the two lack the passion you’d expect to witness. In fact, that might be my greatest disappointment in this film; lack of emotion or energy.  Sean Penn’s take on mob boss Mickey Cohen was cartoonish but consistent. In fact, I did not mind this performance too much and think if this entire picture were as hokey as Penn’s character then this could have been a screwball gangster movie worth a watch.

Gangster Squad Review, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

Even though the script was a disaster, there were some really fun and great moments.  The Gangster Squad’s attempt to knock off Cohen’s casino was one of those few scenes where my laughter was genuine. Other moments, I was laughing out of embarrassment for a particular scene. A lot of the blame is on the editing.  The  shoot out in the hotel lobby is the greatest example of editing getting in the way of this picture.  Plus, slow motion edits made what could have been a highly dramatic engaging sequence turn cheesy.

Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin in Gangster Squad

I was not expecting too much out of GANGSTER SQUAD which made leaving the theater disappointed much harder to take.  This R rated gangster flick should have had more to it than montages of the squad busting the mob business fronts and forced emotional scenes.  Even with big name stars and a few funny surprises, it would be with great difficulty to recommend this film to anyone when there are so many other fantastic films in this genre. Save yourself a buck and skip this one.

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