‘Gangster Squad’ misses mark with predictability
“Gangster Squad,” the newest film in the mob genre, delivers on action and thrills, but misses some opportunities at “great movie” status. The film is the latest endeavor by director Ruben Fleischer, whose other works include such original, quirky films like “Zombieland” and “30 Minutes or Less.”
“Gangster Squad” is set against the backdrop of Los Angeles circa 1949. Police sergeants John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) lead a band of misfit cops, under orders to run former-boxer-turned-gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) out of the city by any means necessary. The movie delivers on action with gritty fist-fights, wild shoot-’em-up battles, car chases and explosions. Where it falls short is that it follows a cookie-cutter, predictable formula of the gangster flick, so much that the actor’s abilities are wasted. It shoots for a great gangster film but comes across as a remake of “The Untouchables;” it was almost like a T.V. crime drama and a Dick Tracy comic meshed together.
There are obvious liberties taken with historical accuracy. When the claim is made that the film is based on true events, it really should have the word “loosely” placed before “based,” which is too bad because the real story would likely make for a better film.
The story and film are good, but it could have been great with more emotional investment in character development. The actors are what save this film; they take a predictable storyline and mediocre script and make it work. But for all of its predictability and lack of originality, the story has a moral: live by the sword, and you will die by the sword. There is a satisfying vindication of the good guy when he claims victory. If nothing else, the audience will be able to identify with the personal catharsis of standing one’s ground in the face of almost insurmountable odds.
Brolin gives a believable performance, which has the viewer rooting for the strong, silent hero while Penn delivers the goods as a ruthless, violence-driven mob boss. The fun of the car chases, along with the excitement of chaotic gun battles, make this an entertaining film in spite of its shortcomings. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling also churn up the romantic chemistry of their earlier work in Crazy Stupid Love.
The Real Picture Experience, or RPX, is shot at faster frame rates and makes for a sharper, more detailed image which enhances the experience. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score this film rates at a 3.5, and it was worth the investment of a couple of hours.