So I was feeling good – not great – about this story of cops who leave their badges at home to battle against mobsters in Los Angeles shortly after World War II.
Josh Brolin is Sgt. John O’Mara, a war hero and a straight arrow in a police force that’s riddled with corruption. The chief (Nick Nolte) orders him to put together a team of cops to work outside the law to stop the growing influence of crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).
Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) joins the squad after witnessing a horrible event, but he’s already tied to the trouble because he’s dating Cohen’s girlfriend, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone).
When the cops aren’t going to war against the criminals, Wooters is wooing Grace. O’Mara has to mollify his wife (Mireille Enos), who knows her husband is risking his life and their future together every time he leaves their comfy bungalow.
“Gangster Squad” has moments that will make you squirm, especially when Cohen finds out who his enemies are. There also are satisfying scenes, when righteous violence comes down on those who’ve caused so much pain to others.
The movie has undeniable emotional punch, as well as plenty of logical holes. The relationship between Wooters and Grace is a case in point. Their banter is cool and slick, then suddenly they’re in love. Things move too quickly.
“Gangster Squad” also suffers from a common ailment in movies these days. Let’s call it “bad-buys-can’t-shoot-itis.” A bunch of bullets fly, but few hit their targets.
I left the theater feeling pretty good about “Gangster Squad,” then I thought about it for a while and its flaws stood out. This is a romantic period piece with plenty of action and drama, but it never rises above the sum of its parts.
I give “Gangster Squad” a C plus.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7
She gives “Gangster Squad” a B plus.
‘It's better than I expected it to be.’