Movie Review – Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster Squad, 2013.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer.
Starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte and Josh Pence.

Gangster Squad movie poster


A group of incorruptible Los Angeles police officers join together to stop and up-and-coming mafia boss, sparking a violent war for control of the city.

Gangster Squad is an appalling lazy attempt at the gangster genre and falls flat in nearly every department. It’s like watching famous faces playing dress-up for 100 minutes whilst a film student in his first year makes what he thinks is a ‘cool’ take on the genre.

Comparisons to Brain de Palma’s undisputed classic The Untouchables are endless but listing these two films in the same sentence is as pointless as the reason for Gangster Squad ever being made. The story and script is nothing less than the best bits of other genre films cut and pasted together minus the talent behind their greatness; anyone who has seen enough films to know originality when they see it should stay far away. When will studios stop putting money into these woeful screenplays?

The real blame here fall at director Ruben Fleischer, a man who clearly has no understanding or appreciation of the 1940-50s period, for if he did he wouldn’t shoot in slow motion as if he were making the next Resident Evil film. Do you know why some directors choose to slow down their films to super-slow motion? It’s because they haven’t got a single solitary idea in their minds to do anything else. Why try to shoot a film intelligently and have your own trademarks all over it when you can just copy all the other sub-par directors out there? Authentic costumes and set design alone DOES NOT mean your audience will be transported to 1949 if you shoot it like Watchmen and light it like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. It tries so hard to be tough and exciting but manages to get very boring, very quickly when you can see straight through its facade.

The usually fantastic cast are all held accountable too, despite having to deliver dialogue that no one could walk away from unscathed. Sean Penn gives it his all but, like Guy Pearce in the similarly flawed but slightly better Lawless, he is too over the top compared to the other actors around him that he might as well be an actual cartoon on the screen. The prosthetics and cartoonish acting worked to great effect in Dick Tracy but it made sense in that world, this is simply overacting from a man who doesn’t need this rubbish on his CV. On the other end of the scale is Emma Stone who never succeeds, not for one frame, to convince as the gangster’s moll and femme fatale. She looks like a 2013 girl in fancy dress and way out of her depth.

The list of failures within Gangster Squad are too numerous to list so stay in and watch [insert and other film of the genre] on DVD instead and save your money. The less tickets that are bought, the less profit it can make. Trust me, you don’t want another film like this being made any time soon.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.

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  • Arby

    I don't see your ass out there making movies, you just review them, you probably know a lot about film, but you have nothing to back it up with!

  • agentdeep

    Los Angeles, 1949: A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen who runs the city.<br /><br />Director:Ruben Fleischer<br /><br />Writers:Will Beall, Paul Lieberman (book)<br /><br />Stars:Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone<br /><br /><br /><br />http://