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Review: 'Gangster Squad'
January 22, 2013 - April Diodato
Films with January release dates are notoriously disappointing.
Even after its debut was rescheduled for early January, I had no intention of missing “Gangster Squad.” I'm a huge fan of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, as well as the film noir genre and '40s fashion. Despite its dismal Rotten Tomatoes rating (currently at 33 percent, with a whopping 112 “rotten” reviews), I thought, “How bad could it be?” Well … it wasn't great.
The main problem plaguing “Gangster Squad” is an awful script. I had to check the credits to see if the “Liz and Dick” screenwriter was involved (he wasn't). The dialogue was downright laughable at times; I even heard some giggles from the audience after some particularly bad lines. It's up for debate, but I think the noir-style script I wrote for the final project in my high school Media and Communications class may have actually been better than “Gangster Squad's.”
Most of the characters become little more than caricatures and it's a waste of an all-star cast; there's only so much that can be done with such thin material. Josh Brolin plays a hard-boiled cop who leads a motley crew of gun-slingers attempting to end psychotic mobster Mickey Cohen's (Sean Penn) reign over Los Angeles. It's star-crossed lovers Gosling (a cop) and Stone (Cohen's moll) who carry the film, with electrifying chemistry that helped make their poorly-written) witty banter work. The rest was filled in with explosions, gunfire and gore. If you watch any classic film noir, you'll see that the gore wasn't necessary. By keeping the blood and guts off-screen, the audience had to use their imaginations, which I find to be much more effective.
I can't say that I completely hated it; it was a mildly entertaining romp, by-the-book gangster fare with mostly mailed-in performances. I was in it for Gosling in a double-breasted pinstriped suit and a fedora, with Stone as his femme fatale, and I got what I paid for. If you don't think you'll be content to spend the film's duration ogling Gosling and coveting Stone's fabulous '40s frocks, you might want to skip “Gangster Squad” altogether. At least wait until it comes out on DVD – I doubt you'll have to wait long.