Film Review: Gangster Squad

When the trailer first released in 2012 showing off it’s amazing star-filled cast I was excited about this movie. It looked very well shot, and stylized in a unique, aesthetically pleasing way. I’m not a die hard fan of any of the actors, but they are all very good in the movies I’ve seen them in.

Then the dreadful theater shooting in Aurora happened which delayed the release of the film, considering they had a seen that involved a shoot out in a movie theater (which was re-shot and changed.) Finally the film was released back in January to some pretty bad reviews, and I thought… How bad can it be?

Gangster Squad is an empty box wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper and a bow on top. Unfortunately you can’t completely fix a majorly-flawed script in post. I don’t know what I had more of a problem with, the script or the direction. This film is relentlessly filled with uninspired montages and action scenes that are displayed with a “Look at me! Look at me!” authenticity.

The actors aren’t great. Josh Brolin does well, but is given a very one-dimensional character. They try to develop him bringing us into the midst of his troubling relationship with his wife, but then that conflict is dropped almost immediately to give us more annoying montage-action sequences.

Gosling is a cardboard cut-out, playing a stereotypical pretty-boy who “doesn’t play the rules” and ends up falling for Mickey Cohen’s girlfriend (that was smart of him). After one night of a few cheesy pick-up lines of dialogue he has sex with her and then is ready to defend her with his life. Sean Penn is horrible here, not so much his performance, but his lack of material and direction. Sean Penn playing Mickey Cohen would sounds like an Oscar nominee waiting to happen, but all he does here is throw tantrums like a 3-year-old every 10 minutes or so.

The inevitable final action sequence is so dull and full of cliche’s, the film utilizes slow-mo shots (cause they’re cool right?) during its action sequences. I have been accused of not liking action, which I can almost say is my favorite genre, I just hate action where I’m not invested at all in either side winning/losing and that is cut together so jarringly that I’d probably enjoy the repetitive action of banging pots and pans together rambunctiously.

The general consensus for Gangster Squad has been that it is all style and no substance. But without the substance the style isn’t memorable, but instead distracting and annoying. My hat is off to the Production Designer and Cinematographer who did great, but since this was the direction chosen it feels gratuitous and self-important and a large scale.

Gangster Squad is my first film of 2013 and I didn’t like it. It’s a missed opportunity based on an incredibly intriguing true story. It dishonors its source material with a rushed script and mediocre direction over the execution and actors.

Final Score: 1/2

*★ Ratings are out of Four now. So this Film as scored half as star out of ★★★★*