Gangster Squad

Rated 2.0

The closing credits, done as a series of vintage postcards, have an artfulness unmatched in what precedes them. The setting is Los Angeles circa 1949, the plot has a true-crime basis, the cast is stellar (Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, etc.), and the vintage cars and the retro sets and costumes are very spiffy. But director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), with no help from Will Bealls’ hackneyed script, makes a sloppy, absurdly violent hash of even the best possibilities for pulpy excess. Penn has the plum role of gangster Mickey Cohen, but the apoplectic grotesquerie of his performance does him and the film no credit. Brolin and Gosling are wasted as the top vigilante cops, and female leads Emma Stone and Mireille Enos seem oddly miscast. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.