So, I've been anticipating this film since I first heard about it's existence mid last year. Safe to say that I hurriedly went to my local cinema on the 10th to see their second screening of it. Fortunately the rest of the audience were fairly quiet so that didn't mar the experience.
Anyway, the film. My anticipation may bias my opinion; it certainly did during the film. My biggest gripe during watching was Gosling's voice, it took me half the film to bear it. Now, I'm a HUGE Ryan Gosling fan, so I'm very used to what his normal voice sounds like; this was not it. Was he trying to put on some period accent? His character was a young war veteran, you'd think the role would demand a deeper voice such as his natural one, not the squeaky one we ended up with. I think the BBFC are getting far too lax with their judgments nowadays, there is no way this film should be rated 15, even just five years ago something like this would be emblazoned 18 in a split-second. Sure, there's no actual nudity, but the gore is... well, I was surprised it managed to pass for a 15. Just look at Wanted, there wasn't much more obscenity in that and that was an 18.
This isn't Mad Men, don't expect to see all the elegance a decade earlier. There is some glamour, but it's gritty on the whole, yet still somehow a bit tame... I haven't watched The Untouchables for ages, but this feels to be directed in a fashion similar to other recent action films rather than maintain some link with the era it represents. You didn't get slow-mo close-up cutscenes in LA Noire.
In hindsight, I didn't feel the characters were developed enough to gain any emotional rapport with them. The character I felt we had the greatest insight into was Mickey Cohen - was that intended?? I thought we were meant to feel empathy for the Gangster Squad, the good guys trying to right wrongs in unconventional ways. Yes, there were two or three moments were I felt a bit sorry for them, but really, Toy Story 3 had a greater connection. I got some feel for what the Gangster Squad were trying to stop, and they really didn't waste screen time assembling the squad, but then they were slow making themselves a visible threat to Cohen's empire, and of course there was a montage... I'm not trying to complain about this film, I do try to like it, and yes, I'd buy the DVD to watch it again, but it isn't the sort of film that MUST be seen at the cinema, it's not that engaging. If I was some harsh stuffy critic I'd say "Gangster Squad limply leads you by the hand with a long-distance view of organised crime in LA and how the city tried to stop it", but I'm not, so I'll just say if you want to see a gangster movie with lots of action and at least some element of a plot, watch this film. If you're looking for an engaging neo-noir film, re-watch LA Confidential.
Oh, and if you've seen the trailer and have therefore basically seen the movie - you haven't. If this sort of film isn't your style, sure, don't spend the money on a ticket, but if you thought you wanted to see it and are now dubious, don't worry, the trailer doesn't wreck the movie.
The characters are cardboard cut outs, the script appears to have been written by a five year old, and the story is boring and predictable with cliché after cliché.
Overall it's a terrible film that I wish I'd never heard of.