Some movies are basically pointless but they're so much fun it hardly matters. Pure popcorn entertainment all the way. Gangster Squad is one of those movies.
Which is not to say it's not well made or interesting, it is, but it's not the kind of film that really will have an emotional impact on you or leave you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled. No, Gangster Squad is a playful homage to film noir and is all about being as cool, silly and entertaining as possible. It would make a good double-feature with Dick Tracy, to give you an idea. Hell, Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen is basically a Dick Tracy villain! His cartoonish performance is completely over the top but completely enjoyable. It just makes sense in Gangster Squad, it fits. You've got Josh Brolin playing it straight as the detective/family man who takes on the mob and is asked to gather a "squad" of misfit cops, Ryan Gosling is the mouthy, chain-smoking kid who has an affair with Cohen's "dame" (Zombieland graduate Emma Stone) and the rest of the gang boasts a terrific bunch including the ever-reliable Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick and Anthony Mackie. They're all great and, like in a comic-book or a spaghetti western, each one of their character has their own "thing" to add to the team, whether it's throwing knives or... shooting properly. They're assembled quickly enough and when they finally start getting on Mickey Cohen's nerves, the film doesn't stop kicking ass until the very end.
The movie is stylised and cartoonish but brutal and thankfully not restrained. You've got a guy being pulled apart by two cars, hands being sliced off, heads being drilled, all kinds of goodies. Here you've got a fun, great-looking B-movie set in what is essentially Gotham City starring a top group of actors and actresses which plays like a comic book and captures every cliche you'd expect from the genre it teases. I really liked Gangster Squad because it knew what it wanted to be and delivered just that. I'm also glad that the trailers didn't mislead me, though that rap score throughout every one of them was a bit distracting. Criticisms I would give the film are minor: the very end is pretty anti-climactic and I think that, had it taken itself a tad more seriously, or at least included genuine stuff to grab onto emotionally we could have had a very complete mini-classic. As it stands, it is a forgettable flick but one which you'll have a ball sitting through and soon want to revisit. You won't be bored one second and for director Ruben Fleischer it's a welcome return to form after the slightly underwhelming (but still decent enough) 30 Minutes Or Less.
Overall, I really enjoyed Gangster Squad. It's one of those movies I'll definitely own at some point and throw at people who would have forgotten all about it 10 years from now. Funny, silly, smart, great-looking, non-stop popcorn lols.
Well worth the wait.