Film review: 'Gangster Squad' could have been way better

Friday, 11 January 2013 - 9:32pm IST Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2013 - 9:11am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna
The film under-delivers when it comes to snappy dialogue or interesting side characters. And that’s a real shame because after a while all the action and violence wears thin.

Film: Gangster Squad
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick.
Rating: ***

Ever since its inception, cinema, through the years, has been taken in by the world of organised crime. 2013 proves no different with Gangster Squad hitting the screens. Set in Los Angeles after World War II, the film sees fervent lawman Sergeant John O'Mara (Brolin) rustling a bunch of men to challenge the influence of gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn) who has the judiciary and the law in his pocket.

The men in his team are up to the task but one of them, the playboy sergeant Jerry Wooters (Gosling) predictably develops a thing for Cohen’s trophy/etiquette instructor (Stone).

With the opening 20 minutes setting the stage for over the top clash between the do-gooders and Cohen’s henchmen, the film oozes pulpy goodness both storywise and visually (the cinematography has a colour palette that borrows from the glossy cover of a pulp crime magazine).

From becoming something that does one better on the insipid Public Enemies, Gangster Squad ultimately falls short of expectations because of some of the unevenness of the script. With the blood and fists flying around, the weirdest part of the film is that it tells us ‘take this bit seriously, but overlook these ones’.

Brolin is a vision of fierceness, giving on a tantalising preview of what lies in store with Spike Lee’s Old Boy remake coming soon. Nolte, who was last seen in amazing form in Warrior, chews the scenery as the senior cop who initiates the covert action of the gangster squad. genius Ribisi, playing bugging genius Conway Keeler, gives his all but he’s let down by the less-than-stellar screenplay. 

Penn, along with Patrick, is in scene-stealing mode while Stone seems miscast as the troubled moll. Gosling, coolly plays the savvy player, a role which comes naturally with him doesn’t quite reach Drive-level of intensity. When he is with Stone, it’s like Crazy Stupid Love all over again. Unfortunately, the good acting and the visuals are the nice parts that don’t end up making the film, as a whole, great.

Without going into the details for fear of spoiling this otherwise decent movie - for there are a few things that prevent it from being another redundant addition to the genre- Gangster Squad under delivers when it comes to snappy dialogue or interesting side characters. And that’s a real shame because after a while all the action and violence wears thin.




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