In the realm of gangster movies there are a lot that have really raised the bar. Gangster Squad is not one of them. This film takes the clichés of just about every other mafia movie and adds a great cast to the mix. The biggest problem is that it’s a rip off of The Untouchables.
In post-WWII Los Angeles Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn, runs the mob with an iron fist. The Chief of Police gets together with Sgt. John O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin, and they decide to start a Gangster Squad where they will take down Cohen’s operation. John gets a crew of misfit cops together and they start to really put the hurt on the Cohen operation. How will Mickey Cohen retaliate?
To this movie’s credit the acting is really good. There are a lot of talented stars that bring their A-game to this movie. Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, and Josh Brolin just to name a few. The problem is that the writing is super clichéd. The only thing truly original they bring to the table is a stream of nearly constant action scenes, where the stars pepper each other with an obscene amount of bullets.
After the August 2012 shooting in an Aurora theater they pulled the trailer in order to reshoot the scene involving a shoot out at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Frankly, I don’t think it would have been too bad to keep it in the film. They could have released it even later than they already did if they were really worried about backlash. Taking out a scene like that and making the change so vocally really makes me wonder how the movie might have been better or worse if the scene would have stayed in the film.
This movie is not horrible. It’s also not great. It suffers the crime of being bland and contrived to the point that no one could possibly care. I can’t recommend this unless you are really a hardcore fan of one of the actors. There are just far too many better mafia movies out there that are really more interesting. Watch any of those movies instead of the poor imitations.