With a stellar ensemble cast and a director with a burgeoning talent, Gangster Squad should have been an instant hit which rivalled previous contemporary successes of the genre such as The Untouchables.
Although a completely different film, Director Ruben Fleischer already had Zombieland under his belt, and all he really had to do was transfer the colourful, creative, high-style visual mastery he displayed in that ‘zom-com’ to a story which was already packaged and ready to be delivered due to the rich source material.
But somewhere, somehow, something went wrong. Gangster Squad is a flat-toned, soulless film. With a cast including Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin playing rich characters with a powerful true story to tell, it was a shame to see them have to struggle through a somehow bland vision of a post-prohibition era Los Angeles.
Even Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen struggles to strain anything out of the weak material and ends up portraying a larger-than-life comic book character who just snarls his way through the film.
The actors do their best with their underdeveloped characters, but it is the world created around them which packs less power than an inflatable Tommy gun.