Sometimes movie trailers can be downright deceiving, portraying a film one way but then actually being the complete opposite. In the case of the generic and uncomplicated looking "Gangster Squad" it’s one of those rare occasions when the preview actually hit the nail on the head – what you see is what you get.
Mickey Cohen is a dangerous and lethal man with affinity for power. He has decided to make his home not in the mob-ridden area of Chicago, but in the rich spoils of Los Angeles. Enter tough cop John O’Mara, an ex-war veteran with a no-nonsense attitude and a serious chip on his shoulder. He’s the perfect man to go after a bad egg like Cohen and with the blessing of his Chief assembles a rag-tag team of can’t be bought cops to bring the famed gangster down. May the best man win.
There’s not much originality in both style and story here, with "Zombieland" director Ruben Fleischer bringing only a pinch of the fun of his previous great work and the script one the most appalling recycle jobs ever. (Does the Writer’s Guild actually consider credit should be given for this one?) In a brash borrowing of "The Untouchables" (there’s even scene reminiscent of the Capone and Ness confrontation featuring a 'fed up' O'Mara!), "Mobsters" (hot movie guys of the world unite...and play historical figures!) and "Public Enemies" (though only through the obvious and not so great digital visuals!), "Gangster Squad" reminds me of the flicks I used to watch in the 80’s that took others great ideas and concepts, rewrapped them for audience convenience and existed solely for entertainment value alone. (Hell, there are even some classic montage sequences to keep the audience pumped!) So everyone here from surly lead Josh Brolin to typical baddie Sean Penn play their respective parts merely adequately (the only standout being Robert Patrick playing a sassy elder gunslinger quick with the quips!), the action is fast and frenetic (though with a little more blood here just to keep up with the times) and the story makes all the turns expected. No more, no less.
I’m actually surprised that hardcore thespians Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn decided to participate in such walk through material, but I guess everyone is entitled to a day off. In the end, "Gangster Squad" is perfect January fare – fun, fluffy and forgettable.
Title: "Gangster Squad"
Stars: 2 1/2
Cast: James Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Company: Warner Bros. Pictures