Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Gangster Squad - It's So Bad! - Review


gangstersquadposter.jpgIn a movie that uses real life characters and has them do things that NEVER EVER happened in true life, which is why Warner Brothers only says this movie was "inspired by" true events, James Brolin stars as John O'Mara - a World War II vet who moved to the Los Angeles paradise with his wife when he returned from overseas, but being a cop is not everything he always thought it would be. 

It's 1949, and O'Mara is one of the few honest cops working in a town being run by the mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).  This has earned him the admiration of Chief William Parker (Nick Nolte), who wants to clean things up by starting a top secret unit dedicated to wiping out Mickey Cohen's rackets.  This Gangster Squad will operate without any support or protection from the police force, but O'Mara sees the opportunity to do something good, so he's in and recruiting other members.                                                                                  

Will the Gangster Squad make a dent in Cohen's operation?

At what price?

IT'S SO BAD!!!!!  Gangster Squad is the antithesis of a great movie about 1940's Los Angeles, LA Confidential.  Every character is a cliché.  Every line of dialogue overly melodramatic and puffed up.   Every plot twist formulaic.  It's just a failure.  

The hardest part of telling you why Gangster Squad is so bad is knowing where to start.  It's all horrendous.  Every actor, probably at the behest of director Ruben Fleischer, is doing his worst 1940's/gangster voice, patter and physical presence.  The delivery feels like it comes from a bad parody of a James Cagney film.  Characters have these weird ticks, like Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) constantly playing with his Zippo lighter for no reason and with a flair that is annoying instead of fascinating, and they all walk around in a very affected, stiff manner, especially Robert Patrick as Max Kennard, who is supposed to be some rootin' tootin' cowboy kind of guy who is more Yosemite Sam than Clint Eastwood.   

Then, the dialogue from screenwriter Will Beall (based on the book by Paul Lieberman), is just one big, over blown speech after another that leaves the audience laughing at how silly and cheesy it sounds.   Plus, every twist in the plot completely is formulaic.  As characters show up on screen and we learn about their background, you know exactly what is going to happen to them as the movie unfolds.  Each and every time.       
Poor Penn comes off the worst in Gangster Squad.  It's just too much.  He makes Cohen border on caricature in every reaction, supposedly insightful discussion to show his brain at work and interactions with other characters.  I am going to put much of the blame at the feet of  Fleischer, since every actor is so uniformly doing the wrong thing it must be the direction, so we'll just wait for Penn's next movie to remember how good he is.

Gangster Squad is a flop.


0 Waffles (Out of 4)

Gangster Squad is rated R for strong violence and language