GANGSTER SQUAD (MA15+)
When: In general release from January 10
Details: visit gangstersquad.warnerbros.com
The good guys get nasty in this colourful tale of Los Angeles gangsters and tough-nosed cops. Ruben (Zombieland) Fleischer’s crime drama sees Josh Brolin as the last good cop in town, recruiting a secret squad to stop the mafia by any means necessary.
Top of their hit list is Sean Penn’s mafia boss, who has most of LA on the payroll. To bring him down, the squad will steal, spy, and blow up many things.
Those expecting another L.A. Confidential will be disappointed. While there are nods to film noir greats, Fleischer’s approach is far more cartoonish. The violence is extreme but garish, the cinematography is primary colours and sharp shadows, and the characters are paper thin. We’re in for a romp, not a tragedy.
Penn gorges on a cheesy script, more Dr Evil than Don Corleone. Brolin is an admirable lead, but the real cinematic charisma comes from Ryan Gosling as his dubious wingman and Emma Stone as Penn’s etiquette instructor. Sadly, Stone is given little to do, her character’s defining quality appearing to be that she is played by Emma Stone.
Surprisingly lightweight given its heavyweight topic, Gangster Squad is rarely gritty but frequently good, pulpy fun.