The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
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thevideovacuum

GANGSTER SQUAD (2013) ***

It’s 1949 and the notorious gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is eliminating his competition in Los Angeles in hopes of being the only bookmaker on the west coast. The Chief of Police (Nick Nolte) gets Sergeant O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to put together an elite squad that will work without police jurisdiction to bust up Cohen’s rackets. Things get complicated when O’Mara’s right hand man (Ryan Gosling) starts up a love affair with Cohen’s moll (Emma Stone).

Directed by Ruben (Zombieland) Fleischer, Gangster Squad plays like a flashier version of Mulholland Falls (and Crime Story). Fleischer delivers a lot of solid shootouts that are pretty bloody and shows that he has a lot of offer as an action director. There are also a few choice gory moments too (like when Penn says, “You know the drill!” and then proceeds to use an electric drill on a guy’s skull).

The movie is pretty much all flash though. There isn’t a whole lot of heart here underneath the film’s steely exterior. However, Penn delivers one of his most electric performances in some time. Although he is handicapped by some poor prosthetics, Penn nevertheless is a lot of fun to watch as the seething, volatile Cohen. And Brolin puts in a good no-nonsense turn as our dutiful hero. The rest of the Gangster Squad are well cast (Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, and Michael Pena), although none of them ever really become characters we care about.

But while the flick is entertaining, it’s not exactly engrossing. The scenes between Gosling and Stone in particular fall flat. Even though their romantic subplot sorta fizzles, whenever the bullets are flying and Penn is erupting, Gangster Squad is good, if disposable fun.

Tags: action, g
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