Movie Review: Gangster Squad

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 1/5 stars

Josh Brolin has the kind of look that is made for a hard-boiled detective story.  It’s a shame that, instead, he’s in “Gangster Squad”.

I went into “Gangster Squad” with some trepidation.  You see, over a year ago, there were these previews for this cool sounding movie called “Gangster Squad” and I was looking forward to seeing it, but then it suddenly disappeared only to reappear a year later.  This is never a good sign.  It usually means that test audiences hated it and it went in for some massive editing before getting released.

The first words you see in the movie is “This movie is inspired by actual events.”  Another warning sign.  You then skip to Mickey Cohen (overacted by Sean Penn) instructing his goons to draw and quarter a man between two cars.  Mickey then instructs a surviving witness to this crime to “tell Chicago what you saw here today.”  I figured that the Chicago mob must be trying to muscle in on Mickey’s territory and Mickey’s just sending them a message.  Nope.  You find out later that they just came to talk to Mickey.  Mickey Cohen is a cartoon villain.  He actually doesn’t look human.  Sometimes, watching him, I had to remind myself that I was not watching a Dick Tracy movie.  He overreacts to everything.  No real gangster would act the way he did.  Or if they did, they wouldn’t live for very long.

Josh Brolin plays Sargent John O’Mara.  Everyone calls him Sarge.  Everyone.  Even his pregnant wife.  His child’s first word will probably be Sarge.  Sarge is tasked with assembling a group of cops who will attempt to bring down kingpin Mickey Cohen (overacted by Sean Penn).  Sarge is a walking cliche.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Hard-boiled detective stories are supposed to be full of walking cliches and this one’s no exception.  They’re also supposed to have a somewhat coherent story.  That’s where “Gangster Squad” fails to deliver.

The group that he assembles are, like him, cliches.  So, you have the hard-nosed leader, the fed up with the job pretty boy, the quick draw and his faithful companion, the knife expert, and the brain with a family.  One of these cliches falls for the femme fatale cliche of Mickey Cohen.  I will leave it as an exercise for the class to guess which one.  One of these cliches also expresses deep reservations about the path of destruction the Squad is leaving and he dies.  Guess which one!  Go on, guess!

Thirty minutes into the movie, I was hoping beyond hope that the movie would end up being of the “so bad it’s good” variety.  No such luck.  The best that I can say about it is that there are a few really cool slow motion special effects in the movie.  I honestly have no idea how they got so many top talent actors to be in this film.  Life must be difficult for A-list actors these days.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Gangster Squad

  1. Steven Scott

    1) I heard the reason it was pushed back to this year was because of the Colorado shooting as they had to scramble to replace a shootout that took place at a movie theater with one that took place in Chinatown.
    2) I don’t know what you saw in the previews…it always looked like some B movie remake of Untouchables only with modern ‘sensibilities’ (Crazy Over-the-Top Violence).
    3)Its been a long time since Sean Penn was considered A-list.

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