50° Larkspur, CA
The Student News Site of Redwood High School

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

What it means to be a Giant
What it means to be a Giant
Gil LadetzkyJune 22, 2024

In fifth grade, I attended my first-ever Redwood basketball game. It was a rainy Thursday night in a gym packed with energetic students. As I...

A high school student ridden with acne scrolls through social media posts of influencers with seemingly flawless skin from filters.
The bulging red bumps of your teen years shouldnt be normalized: Acne vulgaris, a detrimentally neglected disease
Emily HitchcockJune 20, 2024

Acne vulgaris is a chronic inflammatory disease —those red, white or scarred marks, the ones that stand out or grow beneath the skin as a painful...

Seniors launch their caps in their air as Dr. Barnaby Payne announces they have officially graduated.
Redwood class of 2024 graduates amid tears, cheers and airhorns: A celebration to remember
Cora ChampommierJune 15, 2024

  On Thursday, June 13, the Redwood class 2024 solidified their impact on the school over the past four years and became a step closer...

Gangster Squad a massive letdown

As a sucker for detective noire and American gangster films, I went into Gangster Squad expecting something great. But when the silver screen cut to black and signaled the end of the movie, I mouthed an incredulous “Really?” and exited the theater with my brow in the shape of a sharp v.

How could director Ruben Fleischer have failed so miserably with a cast of A-list actors, and such a classic and simple genre? The answer lies not solely with Fleischer, but also with the writers who created Gangster Squad’s atrocious script.

gangster squad 2
photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Studios

The movie is set in late 1940s Los Angeles, around a growing organized crime syndicate run by mob boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). As Cohen sinks his claws into the heart of the city, buying off or killing anyone who stands between him and absolute power, only one good cop rises to challenge him – Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin). Brolin assembles a classic rag-tag team of honest men who “don’t play by the rules,” including Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) and begins disassembling Cohen’s organization through force and intimidation.

The plot may sound familiar. That’s because it’s the same plot of every cheesy, cringe-worthy action movie. The plot-progressing montages and attempted tearjerker, “I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS” moments in the movie shattered my immersion into the film, and reminded me that I was watching a movie that used clichés in place of creative, fresh plot devices.

The cast of powerhouse actors was not enough to overcome the abysmal script. Penn gave his part a convincing New York accent, but his lines just sounded lame. He didn’t come across as a mob boss, but as a buffoon who magically came to be in charge of all organized crime on the west coast. Instead of having Gosling play the shy, quiet and strong character that he usually plays in his movies, his character was written as a wisecracking womanizer. Gosling’s lines sounded forced and unnatural – the part didn’t match his acting style.

Admittedly, the first 15 minutes of Gangster Squad are enjoyable. Those minutes feature some Tarantino-style bloodletting, and Penn’s character comes off as a cool, calculating, and ruthless mastermind of chaos. But as the movie goes on, Penn’s character devolves into an aged, crotchety Brooklyn street tough who waggles his fist at the ruckus that Brolin and his team stir up on his front lawn. The high point of the movie is Emma Stone’s partial nudity, and even that experience is soiled by Gosling’s silly antics.

Gangster Squad’s rushed, unoriginal plot, and refusal to feature more of Emma Stone make the movie a do-not-watch. If you find yourself watching Gangster Squad and actually enjoying it, I would recommend other exciting activities such as eating original Cheerios out of a Ziploc bag, changing the toner in your printer, shopping for office supplies, or sitting in a dark room alone listening to Cher.

More to Discover
About the Contributor