Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 4
Gangster Squad may lack brains and heart, but it's got guts. You get to see 'em right at the outset, when a Chicago crook who dares to cross power-mad Los Angeles gangster Mickey Cohen (a guttural Sean Penn) gets ripped in half by a couple of sedans. (Then again, you get to see brains, too — but that's not until later on.) So yeah, there's plenty of violence. And Ryan Gosling is handsome, and Emma Stone is old-fashionedly pretty. And Los Angeles circa 1949 looks great. Beyond that, this tale of a good cop in a crooked town who tries to clean things up by forgetting about the law and treating American gangsters like an enemy army is a casserole made from tired leftovers. Blend up The Untouchables, Dick Tracy, and Mulholland Falls, drain off the moral intrigue, sprinkle with bits of soul-searching, reheat, and serve. With Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick. 2013.
— Matthew Lickona