Review: Gangster Squad
Cast: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone
Director Ruben Fleischer
Indian Express Rating:**
So Light is this tone of this purportedly dark mobster noir that even the freckles on the face of Emma Stone must get meticulously airbrushed out. Quite in the same vein, this "inspired by a true story" film about a secret cop squad that brought down dreaded ganglord Mickey Cohen is more glamour than grim, glib than grand, gore than guts. It's also incessantly violent and surprisingly repetitive.
Penn hams through the role of Cohen, oscillating between being godfather-ly Al Pacino and thuggish Robert De Niro. The rest of the talented cast gets little to do except indulge in a series of frenetic gunfights. Some of these are stylishly executed in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, particularly the end sequence around a large Christmas tree, but we know little or nothing about the men behind those big guns.
Cohen's madness is established by a series of executions he carries out, which include having a man being ripped apart, men being set on fire and another being drilled to death -- all shown to the extent these acts can be on screen. However, not even an apology of an attempt is made to explain what made Cohen who he is.
The other character who gets some kind of a backdrop is Sergeant Jack (Brolin). But that extends to having a pregnant wife who is supportive enough to help him put together the gang he should go to war against Cohen with.
In fact, World War II is one thing that binds together at least three of the six men. However, again Gangster Squad acknowledges that with almost laughably familiar talk of honour, glory and the country they hoped to come home to, and then forgets all about it. It does an equally brief hopscotch over the moral lines the police may be crossing in killing Cohen's men than bringing them to trial.