When it’s over, big names, but no big bang. Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) is determined to put Los Angeles mob boss, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), out of business with the help of a secret team of police officers. The film was inspired by true events and takes place in 1949. Even in color, it had a film noir feel to it, contributed in part by the set design and costumes, plus all the attributes that make noir so distinctive, including crime, justice, revenge, reluctant hero, and femme fatale. There are only two main female characters – Connie O’Mara (Mireilli Enos) and Grace Faraday (Emma Stone). Connie was my favorite character from the film. She was John's rock, and her support and spunk brought the best out of her husband. I wished the film had included more scenes with her. Grace was a weak character and could have been cut out. Without her, the story would still move forward, because there was no record of this woman being in Mickey's life. She was an added love interest, the female diversion to a male dominated film. I guess the filmmakers wanted to reproduce the chemistry success of Crazy Stupid Love between Stone and Ryan Gosling, but unfortunately, the relationship here was a fizz. I thought Gosling was wrongly cast as Sgt. Jerry Wooters. I couldn’t get into his character. His soft spoken voice didn’t go with his macho persona. Also, he was completely overshadowed by Brolin's strong presence. The film moved fast, too fast for me to grow any attachment to the characters, and this was where the film suffered. Gangster films are generally about characters, about getting into the mind of the good guys and the bad guys. I needed to see how these characters form and evolve based on their circumstances. Gangster Squad doesn't have the right combination of scenes to draw me into the characters’ lives, thus making me indifferent to them. I would have liked to see some scenes that showed the men’s life outside of the squad, such as family, recreation, fears, mistakes, etc. The squad was handpicked for their skills, so some backstory to these men's lives would have made them more identifiable. The scenes don't have to be long. A few minutes each for supporting characters, added here and there would have sufficed. Remove Grace, and those extra minutes would become available. For example, during an intro of a character, there could be a quick cut to a scene that showed them in a scene in the past, then, cut back to the present. A lot of directors, including Quentin Tarantino, use this technique, and it's an effective way to offer viewers a glimpse of the character's past, which is so relevant in the present.
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