What do you get if you cross L.A. Confidential with The Untouchables? A very average exhibit of the film noir genre is the answer.
Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland hit the screens in 2009 to generally positive reviews – mainly down to a hilarious cameo from Bill Murray.
His 1949 set gangster drama is full of violence, sleek, easy on the eye and even easier on the brain.
Based in post-war Los Angeles, Gangster Squad is the story of honest but brutal cop, John O’ Mara (Josh Brolin), and his ensemble team of extra-legal cops that are tasked with taking down real-life heroin dealer and all-round bad guy, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). For added kicks, O’ Mara’s buddy cop Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) decides to woo Cohen’s current flame, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) ensuing a blood feud between the cops and criminals.
The film starts well – plenty of ultra-violence and Brolin rescuing a damsel in distress – but after this ‘all guns blazing’ beginning, there is little to look forward to.
The romance between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone falls well short of the chemistry we see in Crazy Stupid Love with misuse of their screen time on top of some cheesy one-liners.
Sean Penn’s heavily prosthetic face seems to shout an awful lot reducing any sign of the charm and charisma of a classic noir antagonist.
Josh Brolin’s do-gooder cop is hard to sympathise with, even with a pregnant wife.
On the surface, there is a lot to admire.
A well assembled cast and classy costume design stand this film in good stead.
But amidst the huge explosions and jazz music, there is little evidence that this film will stand up well against any other film of the same genre.
Ultimately, Gangster Squad is intended to instantly gratify.
The characters are one dimensional and the production crew seem to hurry along the next big explosion rather than expand the narrative.
Gangster Squad is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Extras for the Blu-Ray edition include a commentary with director Ruben Fleischer, ‘The Gangland Files’, ‘Rogues Gallery: Mickey Cohen’, ‘Tough Guys with Style’ and deleted scenes.
The DVD has less to get your teeth into with just the ‘Tough Guys with Style’ featurette included,