Rainer's Review of Gangster Squad
It's far more enjoyable than my rating would suggest.
I saw Gangster Squad in theater with some male friends and it was pretty much the perfect choice for us. I laughed my ass off and was quite entertained by the shoot-outs and car chases. Video game aesthetics and brainless action are nothing I don't want to see, but the biggest problem of Gangster Squad was that it all seemed to be unintentionally funny and video-game-y.
It has grand visuals (all sepia, kinda noirish - in short, nice!!) and an awesome cast. The cast though is comdemned to play caricatures rather than characters though. Starting with Nick Nolte as the police chief who's voice is even deeper than Nolte's regular one, over Sean Penn's hilarious portrayal of Mickey Cohen (think of Robert DeNiro overacting a mafia guy) up to Ryan Gosling who's so soft-spoken that he seems almost queer and we wonder how he can get the girl.
Moreover, Fleischer doesn't leave out neither one single mob film cliché (we could exactly tell who and when someone's gonna die) nor one fancy cinematographic gimmick (he got all of them, reverse shots, slow-mos, zoom-in's and zoom-outs,..).
Gangster Squad is one big show off, without much substance and without much artistic value. But it suffers most from extrem tonal shifts. Most films that way (like Dick Tracy which it was compared to), don't take themselves too seriously. Gangster Squad's biggest mistake is that they are. Thus, the comedy parts seem out of place and the drama doesn't affect the audience much because of the constant explosions or gags.
It's a mess, a quite funny one, and decent popcorn entertainment, and I've seen far worse films that I actually rated higher, but it's the same like with Jimmy Wiseau's infamous The Room. There's no self-awareness of its own faults thus I substract I few points because that's just a result of bad and/or pretentious filmmaking.