Every now and then I’ll go to the cinema only to find that the film I wanted to see is sold out. The unwanted decision then has to be made about which film to see instead, and it almost always ends in a huge disappointment. In 2010 I had the misfortune of missing out on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and having to sit through Salt instead, and this time around Django Unchained had to be forfeited for Gangster Squad…
Starring Sean Penn as the most stereotypical mobster king pin you’ll ever see, the film centres around Josh Brolin and his gang of police misfits in their attempt to bring down his criminal empire. The dialogue is so full of clichés that it got to the point where my friend and I were finishing the character’s sentences before they did, and it committed the cardinal sin of any gangster film wanting to be taken seriously, and my personal pet hate, the fact that in a scene in which thousands of bullets are fired in a twenty man shoot out, our heroes manage to escape with not a scratch to show for it time and time again.
But have I been tricked? Am I getting the wrong end of the stick on this one? If Gangster Squad is a film to be taken at face value as a serious crime drama then it fails spectacularly, but if it is to be seen as a heightened parody then without a doubt it’s a five out of five, I laughed and cringed more than I gasped and cowered. The film’s only saving grace was that it looked great, the costuming and cinematography was great, nothing can be higher praise than my non-smoking friend saying that the sight of Ryan Gosling with a 1940s cigarette and lighter made her want to try one.
Emma Stone deserves some praise for her part as Penn’s moll, but she had too little screen time and her talents were put to extraordinary waste as were the rest of the otherwise quite impressive cast.
You want my advice? Stick to Scarface.