Every movie rides a very thin line between being a humorous comedy or a serious drama. No genre of movies ride this line thinner than period pieces, films that attempt to capture a certain time in human history in every aspect. They can go from feeling like a breathing comic book or to a snapshot of history. Rarely does a film capture both. Gangster Squad has managed that very thing, and dare I say in a good way. Capturing both could be a good thing if done right. Gangster squad captures both in the wrong way.
This is the VERY loosely based true story of mobster Mickey Cohen’s reign over Hollywoodland, as it was affectionately known, and Los Angeles county. Aside from names and positions, the majority of this film is fabricated and the spin of money making film makers yarn. The essential Gangster Squad there seems to be little known about and what they did or accomplished, even less. What is known is how Cohen was taken down and what he did, subsequently afterwards. The movie tells the story of 5 legit cops who put all ethics and laws aside to take down Cohen. In there pursuit is every aspect that makes up a perfect story from a young bitter bachelor cop that falls in love to the gritty veteran who can’t seem to let the war go and the ambitious aspect that came with it who also happens to be an expecting father and wants clean streets for his child to grow up on. The dossier on these gentlemen couldn’t line up more perfectly outside a Hollywood script therefore taking away the credibility of the film piece by piece.
The trouble with Gangster squad is it’s inconsistency as a film. It starts out fairly light hearted, tho in a darker tone a la Guy Ritchie. While it’s a serous topic the humor seems to take center stage. the lines almost seemed to be delivered over the top outside of Emma Stone and Sean Penn who are masters at this moment in delivering dialogue. One of the other great speakers and dialogue deliverers is Ryan Gosling who at the out set seems to be a very satyrical and almost cliche character.
About half way to 3/4 of the way the film takes a very serious turn and forces all the loose comical appeal of the characters out the window and now forces you to try and look at the film as a serious work of art with great ambitions. There’s one problem…it’s way too late for that. Everyone seemed to be looking for the next funny moment, which only seemed to arrive when a bloody Mickey Cohen seemed to weep when arrested, but unsure if it was a weep or smile. The faults all lay with the director as the actors seemed to transition well and not make a dramatic change in character, accents and demeanor remained the same but the tone and flow of the film was destroyed.Initial impressions were, if I wondered what would have happened if Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy and L.A. Confidential had a love child this would without question be the answer.
Every actor signed up with a great script and rightfully so, don’t fault them for being let down creatively.
It is worthy to note that a substantial portion of the movie was taken out and some was re-shot after the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado and the massacre at the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. This may have played a significant role in the feel and flow of the film but based on the final product, so much was left as a “what could have been” type feeling.