Friday, January 11, 2013

Gangster Squad Review - 2½ Stars

“Gangster Squad” looks great — like a 1940’s LA postcard.   The story comes from the real life effort to arrest gangster Mickey Cohen—who made a move to control crime in LA after World War Two. The guy wanted it all—gambling, prostitution, drugs—and everything else.   Sean Penn plays Cohen as a psychopath and looks like a character out of “Dick Tracy”.  Handsome Josh Brolin heads the police squad—a square jawed World War Two vet determined to make the world a better place.  “Gangster Squad” assembles a wonderful cast, including Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi, and Michael Pena as the good guys.   Emma Stone vamps her way into our heart as Cohen’s moll.  Nick Nolte appears as the hard boiled L.A. police chief.  These great actors in this beautifully designed film work with a shallow comic book of a script.   “Gangster Squad” relies on the kind of shooting and violence which after a year of real life mass killings comes off more than a little unnerving.  “LA Confidential” told a similar story two decades ago with much less self consciousness.  “Gangster Squad” might have been a great movie, but does come close thanks to a thin script.   Does it deliver what it promises?  1940’s crime drama.  Is it entertaining?  Lots of violence.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Mixed.