Gangster Squad (2013)
In Los Angeles 1949, crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) nearly has the city under his control. He has cops, judges and other law enforcement under his thumb. He wants complete control of the West Coast. And will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) decides to fight fire with fire. Sergent John O’Hara (Josh Brolin) is charged with the task to put together a rag-tag squad to put away their badges and hunt outside the law for Cohen .
Sean Penn (Milk, Mystic River) captures the ruthlessness, boldness and intense presence of the mafia boss. Penn sinks his teeth into each line and justifies the reason behind Gangster Squad must be formed. My only complaint is that there is not enough of him. We catch glimpses of his violent bursts, threats and occasional confrontations. But we don’t really get to explore more into Cohen’s desire and background. Then again that is the case with most of the cast; we don’t get into too much character development of the cops neither.
Josh Brolin (Men in Black 3, True Grit) is excellent as the stoic O’Hara who is willing to do anything to get the job done. Ryan Gosling (Drive, Fracture) is the smooth talking ladies man and O’Hara’s second in command, Sargent Wooters. He gets caught up with Cohen’s girlfriend, Grace played by Emma Stone (The Help ). Anthony Mackie (Man on a Ledge) is Officer Harris who patrols the city with a switchblade and throws it with great accuracy. Robert Patrick steals the show as the comic relief and aged gunslinger, Officer Kennard, with his Hispanic sidekick Ramirez played by Micheal Pena. Finally, Giovanni Ribisi is the nerd who uses the phone lines to tap into Cohen’s operations. These gentlemen have great chemistry together and it is a shame we don’t spend enough time exploring more into each of the officer’s lives.
There is no question the action and chase sequences are too familiar of a present day flick. It is all eye candy, action, blood and sacrifices promising themes and story arches meshed into a glossy scope of the 1940′s. The thin line between the badge and vigilantes are glossed over, which the officers are vigilantes. A potential romance between Emma Stone and Gosling just seems like it was glued on to bring women in. Stone was barely used properly in this movie also. She was supposed to be eye candy, but she is capable of so much more. And the rest of the squad, Mackie, Pena and Ribisi could have had more to offer… then again this is a solid cast with little running time to support them all when Penn, Brolin and Goslin lead the way.
The point of Gangster Squad is to be a popcorn action flick in a sleek and sophisticated backdrop of the 1940′s. The gentlemen look sharp in their suits using slang of the 40′s, the ladies were fashionable yet attractive and the city with the vintage cars were restored beautifully. It has a lot of funny moments, shootouts, witty one-liners and an excellent cast. Only thing holding it back from being a 4 or 5 is the misfire with potential story and character development with this crew.