After a delayed release, the first major review of Gangster Squad has hit the web.
Unfortunately for the movie’s execs, Hollywood Reporter’s resident film critic has deemed it not to be worth the wait. It looks as though this film noir crime thriller is going to fall flat in comparison to leading movies of the genre, such as the excellent LA Confidential, with which this movie has many aesthetic similarities.
Gangster Squad, starring Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone and Giovanni Ribisi alongside Sean Penn and Nick Nolte, is set in 1949, an adaptation of Paul Lieberman’s book about the LA mob leader Mickey Cohen. It was originally pulled to re-shoot some scenes in the wake of the Aurora Colorado shooting tragedy last year but nonetheless, its arrival has been highly anticipated not least by virtue of its stellar cast. For McCarthy, though, Gangster Squad is lacking in dimension and whereas Mickey Cohen was widely held to be a charming man who kept his dark side under wraps as far as possible, Sean Penn “lays him exclusively as a raving homicidal maniac who might even have given the Nazi hierarchy pause.”
The cartoonish elements of the movie, he argues, detract from the dramatic impact of the story: “Made up of synthetics rather than whole cloth, this lurid concoction superficially gets by thanks to a strong cast and jazzy period detail, but its cartoonish contrivances fail to convince and lack any of the depth, feeling or atmosphere.” It remains to be seen whether other reviewers will follow suit, or fall in favour with Gangster Squad.