There are some movies that I dislike, but would still recommend to others. Gangster Squad is among them. I suppose the most glaring example in my head would be Watchmen from 2009. I didn't care for it, but there was still some thought and care put into the final product that seemed to touch several audience members according to some responses I've read. There's a craft and once can see its presence, but it just didn't click for me.
Gangster Squad's largest attractable quality is its cast. There's Brolin as a cop against Penn as a mobster (the two last sparred verbally in Milk), Gosling and Stone once again proving their natural screen chemistry (seen previously in Crazy, Stupid, Love), and other recognizable actors like Robert Patrick, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi, and Nick Nolte. I was hoping this would be a modern The Untouchables or LA Confidential, but Ruben Fleischer's latest just seems like those blended with something like Dick Tracy. If anything, that's one unexpected quality this movie has going for it- how funny it truly is.
The story or characters never take an extra leap from "cops go around beating up gangsters", but for some (such as the audience I saw the film with) that was the kind of movie they enjoyed. The action sequences are well choreographed with a lot of cheeky nods at how 'things used to be' as cinematographer Dion Bebbe (Chicago) fills the screen with long coats, tight dresses, and ol'-fashioned cars. The movie is therefore perhaps too sappy for its own good. Without any sort of interest other than the visuals and a base-level showcase of the original material (the articles are a great read), the film wastes a highly talented cast on a cliche here, a quip there, or a reminder of what each and every character was put into the story to do.
Penn shows flashes of brilliance as Micky Cohen. He is fascinating to watch and delivers some of the more humorous moments. In fact, this might be one of the most fun poorly-made comedies I've seen in a while and I don't mean that as a backhanded or sarcastic insult. The film wanders too far into being an unintentional spoof of the genre (something Fleischer would probably excel at) for my liking, but if any of the elements I've mentioned appeal to one on a base level (speaking less to cinebuffs and more to general audiences), than Gangster Squad might be a very fun rental.