Gangster Squad (2013) Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Michael Pea Movie Review

Gangster Squad (2013)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Gangster Squad (2013)

Can't Touch the Untouchables

Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) returned home from the war to find Los Angeles a very different place with vicious mobster, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) in charge, not only of the criminal activity but also most of the legal system, as he has cops and judges in his pocket. O'Mara's one man attempt at being a thorn in the side of Cohen's operation comes to the notice of Chief Parker (Nick Nolte), who like him wants O'Mara finished and his organization smashed. It is why he orders O'Mara to put together a group of officers who will fearlessly take on Cohen, operating outside of the law to get the job done. For one of those men, Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), things are complicated as he happens to be in love with Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), who just happens to be Cohen's girl.

I don't know whether it was intentional or not but "Gangster Squad" feels a little like someone wanted to remake "The Untouchables" but didn't think they should so used a similar, true life situation, to create a similar movie. As such we have O'Mara and his men, a mixed bunch from old cowboy cops to wire men operating outside of the law to take down Cohen's operation with O'Mara being the sort of morally upright character who does not fear putting his life on the line to do good. And whilst not having the depth which "The Untouchables" had, and still has, "Gangster Squad" is a simple to follow movie, a modern crowd pleaser.

Now I say crowd pleaser because "Gangster Squad" is a case of style over substance. We have a lot of beautifully choreographed action scenes, some surprisingly violent, and there is a vibrancy to this 1949 version of Los Angeles which is both classy but a little fictional. But of course we have the cast which whilst featuring solid performances from Josh Brolin and Sean Penn, also stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as love interests and that is a cinema going crowd pleasing pairing who delivers a 21st century take on 1940s characters. To put this simply; for some the actors and the way they play their characters will be entertaining whilst for others it will all seem false, to 21st century trying to be 1940s.

What this all boils down to is that "Gangster Squad" ticks a lot of boxes from look and action to the actors and the characters. But for me this is a case that whilst it ticked a lot of boxes those ticked boxes didn't make something special.