Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling star in Gangster Squad, a throw back to the 1950’s police-gangster films in the same vein as The Untouchables and L.A Confidential. Based on a true story set in 1949 Los Angeles, Brolin plays police officer John O’Mara paced in charge by of a secret police force by police chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) with the single goal of taking out the kingpin of Hollywood, Micky Cohen played by scene chewing Sean Penn. O’Mara and his pregnant wife played by Mireille Enos, put together their team consisting of likeable actors such as Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick and a at first reluctant Gosling.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, who is known for comedies like the excellent Zombieland and the not so excellent 30 minutes or Less. This is his first venture into something more serious. Taking the look and feel of the 40’s and 50’s while adding gritty violence with a modern sheen. It sounds like it could be a fun cocktail but sadly is just plain and standard. Partly because of cleanness of it. It wants to have the grimy blood splatter that make many of these new age noir films so appealing but is settles with the CGI bullet-holes.
The cinematography by Dion Beebe has a nice glossy look that looks great but beyond that and Penn hijacking every scene he’s in a performance that wouldn’t be out-of-place in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy. The rest of the on-screen talent is wasted as there is nothing more than dressing up in trench coats and hats. There is a decent car chase mid-way through and it is hard not to get giddy when the tommy guns come out to play, however Gangster Squad is in need of some emotional engagement. Not even Emma Stone as Gosling’s love interest can help. It is not their fault, the talents of Brolin, Gosling and Stone just doesn’t seem to come on-screen and you find yourself not caring eater way. If only Gangster Squad had touches of humour as the main focus is playing homage to those hammy and cliché ridden gangster movies. In the end it is serious and straight-faced and as a result it is just hammy and cliché ridden itself..