Arts & Entertainment - Movie Review: Gangster Squad

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems films about forgotten eras are slowly creeping up on us, and I do not object to this. Gangster Squad follows a band of cops who form a secret group called the “Gangster Squad”. They do this to wage a no-holds barred war against gangster Mickey Cohen. Cohen rules Los Angeles with a brutal iron fist and unless he’s stopped, he’ll have total control over the West Coast.
This film was wonderfully graced with a talented cast. We have Josh Brolin as Sergeant John O’Mara, the leader of the Gangster Squad. Ryan Gosling is Sergeant Jerry Wooters, the easy going playboy of the bunch. Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, and Robert Patrick play the other cops of the Gangster Squad, bringing their individual talents to the group. Sean Penn plays the psychotic Mickey Cohen, Nick Nolte as the chief of police, and Emma Stone as Ryan Gosling’s love interest. The actors did a decent job and Mireille Enos, who plays a small part as Sergeant O’Mara’s wife, really stood out to me.
The film is loaded with some good action sequences and the visuals are fantastic. As a big fan of scenery, I always look for it whenever I watch a film. Combined with the constant changing tone of the film, its scenery almost makes it look like a slick stage play, making it somewhat unique.
Unfortunately, even with a great cast, the characters are underdeveloped at best. This is disappointing because it’s obvious there is more to these characters, but very little or nothing is capitalized on. In the case of Gosling and Stone, who have more story than most others in the movie, the surface is barely scratched. Their roles, while important, felt more like fan service than storytelling. Brolin’s role was the most developmed and even that feels like a stretch.
The editing of the film felt uneven. Some scenes were cut too fast and others felt too long. The action was good but it could have been even better. There were a lot of slow and stylized elements played with which seemed to undermine the quality of the action. The tone changes throughout the film and while in some ways it works, other ways it made me frown. This film is very violent; at times the violence seemed necessary, but there were times I thought it wasn’t. There is a bit of humor but at times it’s so cheesy and one-dimensional, the film starts to edge dangerously close to being a spoof.
There are good points about this film but it suffers from over-substance. However, I would not completely rule it out; I think this movie works better if you see it with a group of people looking for a distraction. This is a film that looks good from the outside that could have been better.
Grade: C

Share it now!