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Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn head up a strong cast that is largely squandered in Ruben Fleischer’s flashy yet superficial 1940s gangster yarn. The script seems less interested in developing characters, relationships or believable motivations for its titular gang of rogue Los Angeles cops, who go off the books and on the trail of crime boss Mickey Cohen (Penn), and instead stages a string of explosive set-pieces involving trench coats and tommy guns that look pretty but lack dramatic weight. While Warner Bros pretty much invented the gangster genre and has something of a legacy to uphold, Gangster Squad all-too-often feels like Fleischer has only seen The Untouchables, and is out to remake De Palma’s operatic melodrama in stripped-down, surface-only fashion. While never a chore to watch, Gangster Squad is far too light and breezy for its subject matter and is a fleeting diversion that will be quickly forgotten.

For a different take on the film, check out Fernando’s review here.