Gangster Squad probably seems like it should work. On paper at least. But that’s where it should have stayed. Because nothing comes to life. It’s flat. Dull. Colourless. Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte (ah, that’s that Mulholland curse!), Emma Stone…again, on paper, it’s a decent – stacked, even – cast. Or so it seems.
But c’mon. Brolin is one-note simmer – that’s all. He broods. And though he thinks he’s burning into the screen he just looks a bit sulky.
Gosling, okay, he’s done fine work – and as a result he has his critics – but he’s okay here, bit-part almost. Not a lot more, but not really a foot wrong. Biggest bad move from him here was probably signing on for the part.
Sean Penn’s first scene suggests some of Sean Penn’s greatness – but then he disappears inside the makeup and seems like a throwback to the garishness of Dick Tracy – remember that was essentially a live-action cartoon. This film is not supposed to be anything like that.
In fact the opening 10-15 minutes was almost exhilarating, and certainly scene-setting; sad that the house of cards tumbles so swiftly. In an opening passage that seemed to come from James Ellroy – maybe even Elmore Leonard (maybe) we are thrust into the late 1940s and a tough, vigilante cop is on a clean-up-the-city mission; Penn’s crime boss is the untouchable king. We know immediately it will end in an all-out brawl. There’ll be blood. And there is. But, yawn!
And so then that’s it. That’s all. That’s the film. And nothing much happens for over half of it.
It would also be good to know just what the fuck Emma Stone is supposed to offer the world of acting – so she’s a sober Lindsay Lohan. I guess I get that. But big deal – Lohan can’t act. And neither can Stone.
Horrible film, awful – boring – script. But I’m probably most upset by Sean Penn’s continued slump. His Robert Smith post-stroke sleepwalk through This Must Be The Place was, I thought, the nadir. This comes damned close…