Gangster Squad (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Gangster Squad</strong> (2013)

(Video on-Demand, April 2013) There’s a fine line between parody, homage and unimaginative filmmaking, and it’s unfortunate that Gangster Squad seems to straddle all three at various times.  I’m certainly not objecting to the idea of a muscular crime thriller set in post-war Los Angeles: cops-versus-mob movies are the bread-and-butter of the crime-thriller genre, and a director as gifted as Ruben Fleischer should have done wonders with the concept, especially given a an ensemble cast of talented actors.  At times, Gangster Squad is exactly what it should be: a broad straight-up action movie where brash cops slap down the burgeoning L.A. mob scene.  Car chases, fist-fights, explosions and gunfights: No problem.  Unfortunately, Gangster Squad ends up feeling a bit too naive even for its intended goal: the tone isn’t controlled, the plot strands are both tired and used without refinements, the dialogues are weak and even the capable actors can’t do much with what they’re given.  The worst example of this is probably the romantic sub-plot between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling: both are good actors with great chemistry, but they’re not given anything interesting to do together.  Historically inaccurate to a degree that can be divined even by the most unobservant of viewers, Gangster Squad should be an old-fashioned thriller à la L.A. Confidential, but ends up a barely-competent photocopy of better works.  The historical re-creation, decent actors and overall potential can’t make up for the wasted opportunities.

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