Friday, January 11, 2013

Gangster Squad

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: James Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling
& Emma Stone
Released: 2013
Runtime: 113 minutes
Rating: 4/5

The first time I saw the trailer for this film, it was one of the rare occurrences where a film reminded me a video game; that game being L.A. Noire. I think what struck me at first was the visual presentation combined with the era that the film is set in. I love the style, and colour, there’s such a glow about it. But the biggest draw card for me was the subject matter, corruption and old school gangsters. A topic I’ve had strong fascination with for many years.

The film certainly delivers what it advertises, a flashy old style gangster flick but with modern day quantities and standards of swearing, violence and blood. And to my surprise it’s actually quite a humorous film in many places.

So now for a quick run-down of the plot; Josh Brolin is Sgt John O’Mara, war hero, loving husband, father to be and an honest cop in a dirty town. He is assigned by the Los Angeles Police Chief (Nick Nolte) to assembly a squad of police officers to drive the powerful and ruthless East Coast gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and other mafia types out of the city of angels.

There are quite a few clich├ęs in Gangster Squad, mostly regarding the characters. We have a suave womaniser (Ryan Gosling), a sharp shooter (Robert Patrick), an expert wire man (Giovanni Ribisi), two token minorities played by Michael Pena and Anthony Mackie and a stunningly beautiful woman (Emma Stone) who’s a good girl mixed up in a bad world.

But that aside and the sometimes cheesy dialogue this is one hell of an entertaining movie, pretty much from start to finish. It’s loaded with thrilling car chases, brutal fist fights and very stylish and long shoot-outs which I often wished would never end. And more to that, the sounds effects for all the gun play was excellent which is something I really appreciated and was wondering about leading up to seeing the film. Because I’ve seen gangster films with some pretty weak sounding guns which does tend to take you out of the moment. The Untouchables come to mind; a fantastic film but the tommy guns in that sound like a child’s cap gun. In Gangster Squad I felt every shot from those tommy guns, loud and frightening.

The acting is solid, it’s very much character acting with not a great deal of dimension. Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn are easily the two highlights. Gosling really looks the part and even adopts that stereotypical manner and sound of speaking like from those old movies. Even more so than Gosling, Penn is just flawless as Mickey Cohen; with the menacing demeanour, that nose, the rage behind those eyes and his whole body language in general. He’s absolutely terrifying to the point where you feel genuinely nervous when he’s on screen. Mainly due to his hair trigger tempter and violent outbursts.

Above all else Gangster Squad is so bloody entertaining! Director Ruben Fleischer’s really delivers the goods much like his first feature Zombieland. It’s not The Godfather or Goodfellas, it’s the type of film where you just ignore the flaws, switch off your brain and enjoy the show.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic review Kevin! I can't wait for this film it's hard to believe how hyped I am after this review. Thanks for posting!