All dressed up with nowhere to go. Perhaps the best way to describe “Gangster Squad.” It’s a period gangster flick with a great cast, fantastic costumes and loads of atmosphere. Unfortunately, the story got lost someplace and just looking good ain’t enough to cut it, yah mug.
Sean Penn stars as mob kingpin Mickey Cohen, a guy from Brooklyn out to make Los Angeles and the rest of the west his personal empire. Never mind his rivals from Chicago and points east. He’s in control of the good guys and the bad guys. Corrupt judges and suspect cops, he’s got them all.
That’s when LA police Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) recruits the west coast version of Eliot Ness: Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin). They form a covert gang of do-gooder police officers who hit Cohen fast and hard and right in the groin. If they were in the British secret service, they would have a licence to kill. Do whatever it takes to get Cohen to leave without actually killing Cohen himself.
Sounds good? Okay, then what’s the problem? Plenty! Like too many characters without an adequate back story. A romance (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) that fails to carbonate. A story that’s even flatter. And, a nearly complete lack of passion or drama. Instead, it’s just characters (and actors) going through the motions.
O’Mara isn’t a righteous cop. He’s the vengeful type with no shades of gray. “Gangster Squad” is like “The Untouchables” without a heart. De Palma delivered the goods on Ness and company. The goods were hijacked in this gangster tale. Grade: C-
Street Date: April 23, 2013
Runtime: 113 minutes
Released by Warner Home Video