Gangster Squad

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Bullets. Showers of bullets, point-blank bullets, target-practice bullets. When Gangster Squad was being edited around the time of July’s Aurora, Colo., theater shooting, director Ruben Fleischer decided to excise a scene in his new film in which gunmen bust their way through a movie screen and attack the audience. Now, with the Newtown, Conn., massacre, gun-control is a hot topic again, and Gangster Squad audiences may still feel a bit squeamish. This particular vein of violence may have been justifiable if it weren’t, essentially, all there is to the film. It tells the story of 1940s L.A. mob don Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The LAPD wants to take Cohen down, a task that’s relegated to Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), who assembles a team to assist him (Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, and Anthony Mackie co-star). The squad stake out Cohen and his henchmen. And then they shoot. And shoot and shoot and shoot. It’s all terribly boring; the best you can do to keep yourself amused during the nearly two-hour runtime is admire the film’s style. There’s a touch of moral questioning here, specifically a throwaway line regarding the squad’s tactics versus Cohen’s. But it isn’t enough to lend depth. (TO)

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