Gangster Squad does start out rather nicely; we get Sean Penn chewing every piece of scenery he can while ripping mob bosses from Chicago in half, while John is lopping off gangster hands using elevator lifts. But it’s all downhill as the runtime goes on. Gosling and Stone seem to be in their own little film, which would be fine if that were the one we were watching. Instead, we get treated to more and more screentime with Penn apparently thinking he’s starring in an R-rated Dick Tracy 2. And just when things start to get too boring, the finale shows up to blow you away — with the loudest shootout imaginable. If Penn wasn’t able to keep your eyes open with his insistent yelling, the theater’s sound system has all kinds of ear-piercing chaos just waiting to shoot its load.
Screenwriter Will Beall adapts Paul Lieberman’s novel as best he can, but we’re a long way from The Departed or Goodfellas. Beall is also attached to write Warner Bros’ Justice League, with the Logan’s Run remake and Lethal Weapon 5 also on his plate. He does have a knack for witty characters, so maybe a group of superheroes and a couple of aging/bickering cops might be right up his alley. As for director Fleischer, his only upcoming film is the announced Zombieland 2, which should hopefully bring him back to the limelight we were hoping he deserved. But after 30 Minutes or Less and Gangster Squad, going back to basics could be just what he needs.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures