Upon first viewing the trailer for Gangster Squad, it was hard to keep up with the array of big stars involved. Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone and the now somewhat infamous Ryan Gosling. I must admit, I was dubious about how stylised the look and feel of the trailer was and the slightly naff title. Still, with a cast like that I had big expectations.
Gangster Squad sees maverick and general bad-ass Sgt. John O’Mara collect a posse of like-minded cops to lift a crime-fuelled L.A. out of the sewers. Josh Brolin portrays a likeable protagonist, who is hugely frustrated by the injustice he sees in ‘his city’. Beginning to feel that all is lost, he’s inspired by growling Chief Parker (unsurprisingly played by Nick Nolte). His mission? To oust the city of Mickey Cohen, a truly terrifying villain played by Sean Penn, who often prompts laughs with his cringe-worthy one liners.
At times, O’Mara interacts well with his spunky side-kick Sgt. Jerry Wooters. Ryan Gosling provides a welcome dose of comedy to a script which is largely two dimensional. Matching the slick, almost surreal aesthetic that director Ruben Fleischer has created for his 1940s LA it’s hard to find much substance below the sheen. If you ever wondered want the Xbox 360 game L.A. Noire might look like on the big screen, here’s your answer. Gangster Squad offers violence aplenty as well as some epic car chases. However, the action is relentless and the characters are explored little.
The film is based on the novel of the same name; a true story about soldiers struggling to fill a void in post-war America. The subject matter and cast should have provided rich pickings for an enthralling drama, however it is squandered. The emotional struggles that the characters no doubt would have experienced are skimmed over, in favour of an inexorable stream of more and more unlikely action sequences.
Taken for what it is, you can enjoy Gangster Squad. It won’t win any awards that’s for sure, but if you approach it expecting Bugsy Malone with slow-motion and real guns, it’s palatable. However, comparing this release to the ‘76 classic is being generous. Overall, the lack of charm and decision not to make more of an all-star cast is almost inexcusable.
Gangster Squad is in cinemas from 10th January 2013.
Via Blogomatic 3000