REVIEW: Gangster Squad

Kristin Milani

Gangster Squad had so much promise but unfortunately falls flat. With such a talented group of actors, it has the potential to be an outstanding movie, but it lacks the qualities that great movies possess. It was released on Jan. 11 and earned only $16.7 million on opening weekend. The film is adapted from the novel of the same title by Paul Lieberman.

The cast includes well-known actors Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte. You would expect that these five actors would deliver stellar performances, but they are all disappointingly unremarkable in this film.

The movie is set in late-1940s Los Angeles. Police officers Sgt. Jerry Woothers (Gosling) and Sgt. John O’Mara (Brolin) form a five-man squad to take down ruthless gangster Micky Cohen (Penn) and save the city from organized crime.

There isn’t a lot of suspense leading up to the end of the movie. There aren’t many moments that leave you on the edge of your seat or nervous for the next scene. The reason for that may very well be Penn’s performance as the villain. He isn’t believable. It’s very similar to watching someone impersonate Robert DeNiro and that’s hard to take seriously.

Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) doesn’t bring the material to life and the screenplay, written by Lieberman and Will Beall, is dull and packed full of cheesy one-liners, with an occasional clever line thrown in here and there.

Although there are many talented people involved in the film, there is an obvious lack of chemistry. Movies win Oscars when the right group of people gets together to produce a success. Gangster Squad could very well have been a masterpiece but, unfortunately, it was far from it.

However, the costume and set design is fantastic. The time period is captured perfectly, visually. The storyline of the film had some highs as well.

The plot echoes that of other gangster movies released in the past, but it had some originality behind it thanks to Lieberman’s original material. The intense action scenes also save the movie from being a complete train wreck.