By Parker Thompson, Contributor
If you were dying to go see Gangster Squad since its delayed September release, you may want to reconsider. Directed by Ruben Fleischer (director of 2009’s Zombieland), Gangster Squad’s stylized cinematics are insulted by unclear directorial choices and a lacklustre storyline.
Set in a corrupt post-WWII Los Angeles, Gangster Squad takes us into a period famous for its organized crime. The film opens with Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), the most feared gangster in town, on the verge of taking over LA. However, Cohen meets trouble when police sergeant John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) puts together a secret police unit dedicated to taking him down.
The late 1940s were a nostalgic and exciting time for LA, but Gangster Squad doesn’t take advantage of that the way a film noir should. While the film was clearly stylized, I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a noir revival or spoof. It ended up coming off as a combination of both. Fleischer’s history as a comedic director leads me to believe that he involuntarily made fun of the genre.
With the exception of Penn’s portrayal of Mickey Cohen, poor writing victimized a talented cast into delivering shallow, uninteresting characters. There’s so much more that could have been done with an all-star lineup of actors in this fascinating time period.
I did appreciate the beauty of individual moments—especially the action sequences—but that’s not enough for a coherent film. Maybe next time Hollywood wants to share its history with us, it’ll choose a director suited for the job.