Sean Penn Embarrasses Himself in Over-Acted Gangster Squad

It’s tempting to say the female characters are an afterthought but that would be misleading because all of the characters seem to be afterthoughts. Broslin is a generic tough guy who effortlessly beats up gangs of attackers who spring on him everywhere; Gosling is exactly the same. Stone is the most boring femme fatale imaginable as she allows herself to be picked up by Gosling’s character, who immediately proposes to take her to bed, in front of Cohen, her date. (Again, the editing is so poor we don’t know whether Cohen is watching the other two flirt at the bar even though he can’t be far away.) Cohen is supposedly insanely jealous and protective of her, yet he seems to forget about the lady for a large portion of the movie as she practically moves in with the cop.

Trying to give a James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential feel to this haphazard story, the screenplay heaves with mannered dialogue that is meant to sound clever and Chandleresque but mostly sounds flat, if not downright weird. Told that Mickey Cohen is on the warpath while he’s flirting with his girl, a cop says, “Warpath? Looks like he’s on the gimmee-some-more-path.” Ouch, I think that line could have been on Sex and the City. When Stone says, “I think I’ll go bend my elbow while you guys bend your ears,” you want to tell her to take that line back to the shop for repairs. Having a conversation is not the same thing as bending ears.

Gangster Squad arrives in theaters doubly cursed; Warner Bros. was planning to release it over Labor Day weekend, traditionally a time to dump stinkers when no one is paying attention to movies anyway, but the film originally contained a climactic movie-theater shooting scene, and after the summer multiplex massacre in Aurora, Colo., the studio hauled the talent back in for reshoots. The suits should have taken the opportunity to fire the director and start over.


More current releases reviewed by John Boot at PJ Lifestyle:

With Django Unchained, Is QT Devolving Into the Weird Al Yankovic of Cinema?

Les Misérables: The Grand Musical Epic Does Not Disappoint

Zero Dark Thirty: One of the Best Films of the Year