Is there anything more Boss than a man kicking arse while wearing an immaculate three-piece suit, with hat to match?  Let’s be honest…probably not.  And luckily for Gangster Squad, there’s a whole group of them…to deter you from the occasional ‘What?’ moment that is sure to occur.

To set the scene: Its late 1940s in Los Angeles.  Men have finished fighting in the war, and they just want a nice clean city they can raise a family in.  Damnit, that was the whole point of fighting, wasn’t it?  At least this is the opinion of one man, John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), who doesn’t care what his heavily pregnant wife has to say…he’s going to take on Mickey Cohen if it’s the last thing he’ll do.

Only problem is, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), is the most notorious criminal figure in the Californian underworld, who has kept his rise to power uninterrupted through heavy bribing to the police force, as well as his witnesses ‘conveniently’ disappearing.  Basically the usual gangster-style stuff.

O’Mara is hired by his chief to create a vigilante group of cops, to wage guerrilla attacks on Cohen and his men and stop them from taking total control of the west coast.  Among those men is ‘the brain’, ‘the sharpshooter’, the atypical racist ‘mexican guy’ (for the 1940s at least) and the dreamboat…a la Ryan Gosling, who of course, falls for the girl (Emma Stone) and joins the ragtag group of men to honour the death of a young boy.

Ladies.  Let’s all just take a moment to swoon, shall we?

The good:

  • Did I mention that Ryan Gosling is in this film?  Sure, he isn’t fully naked at any point, but otherwise he’s damn near perfect.  Although he often frequently plays the same character (handsome, appears to be from the wrong side of the tracks but is a secret sweetheart, quiet but assertive etc), he does it well…and reminds us why half the world’s population has a little bit of a crush on him
  • The special effects.  I love when a film has a decent sized budget ($60 million) that they can spend on special effects, but choose to use sparingly.  Gangster Squad is one of these films.  Slow motion is used to its greatest effect, particularly in the shoot-out scenes, but also to draw attention to somewhat inconsequential details; the flash of a lighter, a bullet dropping to the ground
  • The scene.  Sure there was a hell of a lot wrong with the 1940s (racism, sexism, the War…) but at least they got the fashion right.  Men of the world, when did it become acceptable for you to wear garments such as fluro skinny leg jeans, oversized singlets and backwards caps?  Seriously, let’s be realistic here, if men still continued to dress like they do in this film, then a whole lot more action would be coming their way

The bad:

  • There was only one stand-out feature that I didn’t like about this film, but it’s a big one: the storyline.  The storyline at times was convoluted and bipolar, changing tact partway through, only to return to it thirty minutes later.  Sure, Mickey Cohen was a scary guy, but was there enough of him?  And surely Sean Penn has more acting capabilities than a one-liner in a bad accent?  And then there was the ‘romance’ between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.  Now, for anyone who has seen Crazy, Stupid, Love, you’ll know that there is chemistry between these two.  That’s not the issue in Gangster Squad.  The issue is that the writers realised they had the opportunity to create a love story between two attractive and very likeable actors, but failed to invest the screen time or effort into it.  First they meet and have sex, and then 40 minutes down the track he’s in her house having breakfast, and we can only assume that they’re a couple of some sort?  What the hell?  Furthermore, I just couldn’t get into the main storyline about Mickey and his gang of merry men (read: like to use guns).  While they were taking control of a major telecommunications wire, they also appeared to be investing in prostitutes and heroin, yet none of these three story archs were properly explored.

Overall, I enjoyed Gangster Squad for the acting, the editing and the overall look and feel of the film.  At no point was I bored or regretted dragging my bum down to the cinemas.  However, considering what I’d heard, I felt that this film didn’t live up to its potential, and the overall storyline really let it down.

Have you seen Gangster Squad?  What did you think?  Let me know!