Sunday, February 03, 2013

Review: Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad is based on a true story and while a premise like this is often given the license to stretch the truth for cinematic effect, it still should still have a hint of emotional reality. While the movie’s strong cast saves Gangster Squad from being a total dud, the movie’s detachment from reality is a disappointment.

Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker (Nick Nolte) assigns police officer John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to form a squad that will take down gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and his group of gangsters who have recently taken over the city of Los Angeles. O’Mara is determined to put an end to Cohen’s businesses in any means even if it’s breaking the conventional law.

To Gangster Squad’s credit, its stylized action sequences are snappy and quite enjoyable to watch. The production design was also successful to make you feel the authenticity of the era the movie was set in. But while the premise is quite interesting, the movie didn’t fully maximized the story’s potential and went with an action blockbuster route that oftentimes made the movie feel more cartoonish than it should be.

The story is cluttered with crime movie clich├ęs, predictable plot turns and unnecessary characters and subplots. The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is sure good (as evidenced in their first team up in Crazy Stupid Love) but their story in Gangster Squad is so underdeveloped that there was a scene in the kitchen which suggests that their relationship is on a deeper level already. But the weird thing is that prior to that scene there was no real build up that they connected beyond sex. Most of the acting is over the top (and sometimes borders on self-parody) especially Penn but for what is worth they are fun to watch in some scenes.

Gangster Squad is not that awful but it’s just unremarkable. It could be considered a mindless mob movie but still it’s quite a shame that a good ensemble and fascinating premise were wasted on a so-so effort.

Rating: 5 / 10

1 comment:

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