GANGSTER SQUAD (Ruben Fleischer, 2013)
At many times in Ruben Fleischer's GANGSTER SQUAD does the film THE UNTOUCHABLES by Brian De Palma gets referenced- from the composition of its main characters (the titular gangster squad), the ruthlessness of the villain, and most evidently, the final shootout scene in the hotel lobby which mimics the staircase scene in THE UNTOUCHABLES, complete with slow motion gunfights.
But as an escape vehicle, GANGSTER SQUAD delivers. There's plenty of gunfire and the path to rid the streets of Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is thrilling. All of the cast members do their best, but it is Mireille Enos (from TV's THE KILLING) who plays wife to Josh Brolin's cop character who delivers the most laudable performance.
Sean Penn may have outcrazied De Niro as Al Capone in THE UNTOUCHABLES, but his portrayal of Mickey Cohen is one-sided: we never really learn anything from the guy except he's a greedy, vengeful, egotistic bastard. And he will kill to take which is his.
Another beef I have with this movie is the look and feel of it. While the production design and the cinematography may have been intended for a 1940s-1950s feel, the pacing and the action sequences seemed like it was shot by Michael Mann on handheld cam for a companion piece to his film version of MIAMI VICE. There's no consistency with the set design, the action pacing, and the cinematography.
I wanted more with the material. The progression of the plot seemed too contrived, leaving no room for surprises. The story is cut out to follow a good guy/bad guy showdown. Even Emma Stone (who is lovely as always) is reduced as another damsel in distress.
If it's any consolation, the dynamic between Robert Patrick and Michael Pena is a joy to behold. Then again, Pena is portrayed as an ethnic minority. Give the guy a break, he will surprise you.