It’s another tale of bad guy gangster meets questionably motived cop in 2013’s Gangster Squad. With big name actors at its side, this film tries so hard to be something great, but falls short and provides an average amount of excitement.
Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin, No Country For Old Men) is ordered to work undercover to take down Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn, Milk), the most powerful gangster in Las Angeles. Alongside O’Mara is a number of cops including the likes of Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love), Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar) and a few other familiar faces.
In all honesty, Sean Penn is the greatest part of the movie. Playing the illustrious Mickey Cohen, Penn brings a great character to the film. His acting is unmatched by all the other characters in the movie, and I found myself aching to see more scenes with him instead of the protagonist and his buddies.
What this film was missing was a good dose of character development. Relying instead on new wave cinematography and extended action scenes with explosions and loud music, Gangster Squad lost some of the anticipation I had for some of the great character conflict I’ve come to associate with gangster movies. I needed more than watching the good guys take out all of Mickey Cohen’s men and systematically destroying him.
The film does, however, offer entertainment. It’s quick paced and easy to follow. Ryan Gosling plays a cop that falls in love with Mickey Cohen’s girl (Emma Stone, Easy A), and is his normal heart-throbbing character with a bit of a 40s twist (cue awkward looking fedora). As the film goes on, and tension gets higher his character serves as a sort of moral compass for O’Mara, trying hard to make him come to his senses when all hell breaks loose.
It’s one of those movies that you know the ending before the movie even begins, because it’s been made a hundred times before. But you watch it anyway since it has a favorite actor in it, or because you love gangsters and the 40s.
It’s nothing to write home about, but I’d say if you’re in the mood for popping in a movie while you write an essay or clean the kitchen, this is one to add to the list. I assign three and a half stars out of five, the extra half coming purely from Sean Penn.