- Ruben Fleischer,
- Will Beall, Paul Lieberma,
- Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, Giovanni Ribisi, Josh Pence,
- Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and — if he has his way — every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop… except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.
Sean Penn's not been this fun since Jeff Spicoli and there's plenty of rip-roaring action, but Gangster Squad proves a minor entry in the annals of LA noir.
His (Fleischer) first feature, "Zombieland," was a half-witty genre parody. This one might be described as genre zombie-ism: the hysterical, brainless animation of dead clichés reduced to purposeless, compulsive killing. Too self-serious to succeed as pastiche, it has no reason for being beyond the parasitic urge to feed on the memories of other, better movies.
As a capable imitation of better movies by Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma and Roman Polanski – it's reasonably successful entertainment.
Slick, sick, self-consciously stylish and defiantly shallow, Gangster Squad is one of those movies you can't talk about without invoking other (often better) movies. A lot of movies.
The over-all result is a misstep for Fleischer. [21 Jan. 2013, p. 78]
The soul of the era is missing, and with it any reason to care. In Fleischer's hands, the high-stakes shootouts are as stylish as a GQ spread, but it's nearly impossible to figure out who's zoomin' who.
It never really comes together in a satisfying way, and given the talent involved, that adds up to a big disappointment.
In the last five minutes the film shifts gears and offers a tribute to law enforcement. But this tacked-on resolution is as sticky and fake as Sean Penn's make-up job.
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