Gangster Squad – the good, the bad and the ugly
My relationship with Gangster Squad was over in two hours. Well, to be honest I’m not sure there ever was a relationship. We barely had a fling.
During the time we spent together in the theatre we went through several phases.
At first I have to admit that I was a little bit taken by its pretty face. It looked attractive. Then we got to know each other a little better and realized we didn’t have much in common.
Were we ever in love? That would be a stretch to say. Whatever we may have had was mostly based on Ryan Gosling’s star quality. It was a pleasure to see his soft smile and kind eyes after being absent from the film screen for the entire 2012. But in the end, not even Ryan Gosling’s presence could compensate for the fact that Gangster Squad isn’t a particularly good movie.
Let’s begin on the bright side. What made me like it a little to begin with? Well, as I said before, it’s got a nice exterior.
What especially caught my attention were the beautiful hats, always worn with elegance – the right size, the perfect angle on the head. I couldn’t stop admiring them, as well as the costumes and the overall look of it. I wouldn’t say that it looks authentic, but it looks like th end of the 40s in my imagination.
The cast is also pretty great. Seducing. Apart from Gosling there’s Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and Emma Stone, who all do their best trying to breathe some life into the script, sadly an impossible task, which brings us over to the next part: the bad.
Gangster Squad is anything but original. This is not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes all you want is a leisure cruise through familiar landscapes. Painting-by-numbers movies have an advantage: you can count on that people “get it”. After all they’ve seen this film dozens of times before and they know the drill. There’s no need for guidance. In this case however it seems as if the screenwriters have forgotten this completely. They have absolutely no confidence in the intelligence of the audience. Everything needs to be explained, right on your nose. People talk in a way that nobody talks, in order to provide information to the viewer. Characters are introduced, plans and motives are shared. It feels out of place and it makes me cringe.
Despite the lacking writing, it seemed for a while as if the movie and I could, if not become lovers, at least learn tolerate each other. I said to myself that after all it was mildly entertaining. I could imagine it as a piece of aircraft in-flight entertainment, provided that you make a few cuts to take the edge of the excessive violence. You don’t want people to lose their appetite after all.
But all of this changed in the final five or ten minutes. All of a sudden someone burst out in a patriotic speech in honour of the LA police department. I don’t mind the LA cops, I’m sure they’re doing a fine job, but this was out of place, cheesy and made me wonder what kind of a sponsor deal they have. I actually ended up laughing, since it seemed to me like a parody of American film. But I don’t think it was intended as such.
We had come to the end of the film and it was time to take farewell and finish whatever had been between the two of us.
“Gangster Squad”, I said with a firm voice. “’I’m sure there are a lot of nice people who have been involved in your creation, people who mean well and love what they do and tried their best to make you into a good film. But the chemistry between you and me just isn’t there. You may have the beautiful eyes of Ryan Gosling, but the rest of you is appalling to me. I don’t want to see you ever again.”
And I closed the door maybe a little too loudly.
Gangster Squad (Ruben Fleischer, US 2012) My rating: 2/5
Some of my colleagues in the Swedish network Filmspanarna also watched Gangster Squad. Here’s what they made of it (in Swedish):