When growing up I developed a passion for videogames. Fuelled by my father, who would always buy the latest computers/consoles, I started playing them when I was very young and I never really stopped (although I don’t play as much as I used to, mainly because of time constraints). If there is one thing videogames generally are not very good at it’s telling stories which manage to involve you emotionally. Sure games can frustrate you sometimes, but it’s not often they will make you care much for the main character or sweep you away in the story. It’s basically all about experiencing action. Gangster Squad to me is like the videogame version of The Untouchables. The story is about the same, but it lacks the emotional impact and cranks up the action. Is that a bad thing though?
Yes, this is a movie about a team being put together to fight a big mob boss who seems unstoppable, but the presentation of it is a feast for the eyes. It’s got a great looking cast in period clothing and enough action to make sure you never have a moment to doze off. Even though it never has the depth you might be longing for, it does have an involving story, fleshed out by some great actors. I loved Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen (the mob boss), clearly having fun in his role and a joy to watch. The Gangster Squad itself has a great cast of actors too with Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Pena forming a team where each member has its specific speciality.
Much has been made of the removal of a now controversial scene where there was a shooting in a movie theater, but to be honest I never saw the trailer and didn’t care at all about the scene missing. I didn’t feel it needed it when watching this film. If you are looking for a cops vs. gangsters films with a great emotional depth and complex characters you should check out The Intouchables. If you are looking for an action movie set during the gangster era than Gangster Squad is a movie that can entertain you. It is like a videogame, but a very fun one that looks great and has enough action to keep you “playing” till the end credits.