Friday, January 11, 2013

Gangster Squad (2013) - Film Review

Director: Ruben Fleschier

Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, Mireille Enos, Lucy Davenport
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and language 
A chronicle of the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.

"Gangster Squad" comes out as one of the biggest films last year laced with the most controversial. In the wake of the Aurora Theater Shooting back in July, the film got pushed back 4 months and had to cut out a theater shooting scene that took place in the film. Politics aside I believe that the film shouldn't have had to do both I can understand pushing the film back but if the film is pushed back editing the scene feels almost too much. In a day and age where we are surrounded by death in all certain types of way, all films to some extent represent some way that we have lost someone. To me this felt like an overindulge to cater to people who are just looking for some controversy to deal with.

 Now talking about the film "Gangster Squad", I was looking forward to the movie for quite some time. True crime films are a big guilty pleasure of mine as I always enjoy seeing the 1940's and 1950's represented on screen becausee they represent a time where the technologies we own did not exsist and the law was very different from how it is today. The film also featured an all-star cast on top of it with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and Josh Brolin as the top billing stars on the ensemble. Overall the film just looked very entertaining and a good action flick. After seeing "Gangster Squad" I can say the film was very good but did leave a little bit more to be desired.

 The film featured a lot of good things with the directing and acting which were top notch its just when it came to the story that I think crippled the film the most. The plot of the film is a pretty straight forward tale. Five cops masquerade as an LA gang to get close enough to Sean Penn's operation to take him down from within. The story plays pretty straight forward. The story doesn't offer up anything new and feels more like a generic gangster LA Noire type film instead of a film like "Public Enemies" that starred Johnny Depp which I really believed to be a truly great gangster film. The story is also very predictable with very little depth. The film features cops going against the law they sworn to uphold and going out and just causing chaos. The repercussions of their actions is only really discussed once and a throwaway line of dialouge. It felt weird that they'd only bring it up once. It would have been better if they'd never have brought it up because for the type of film this movie was trying to be it would have been a lot better.

 The film is directed by Reuben Flescher and I felt the style he directed this film in was pretty good. The color and style of the film was enjoyable to see and worked well the shootout and fight scenes that glorify the screen throughout the film. If their is really only one place Fleshcer underwhelms is with dialouge. Outside of Sean Penn and Josh Brolin's characters, everyone elses lines felt like they were generic and two dimensional to the characters they were portraying.

 The place where this film shines most is in the acting. Sean Penn is the only actor I can say can play a transgender, a gay advocate, and a mob boss and just dominate every scene he was in. The fear and anger this character felt throughout the entire film was perfectly portrayed and made me even feel those feelings of fear when he came on screen. Josh Brolin is the perfect foil to Sean Penn's character as he is the hero of war that I completely believed to feel he needed to form this gangster squad to take down LA crime. Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Nick Nolte, and Michael Pena all did just as good in their roles but this film really felt like the best parts all went to Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. Overall the acting of the film was very good as much can expect with an all-star cast like this and I felt helped elevate the film to an hold other level.

Overall "Gangster Squad" is an enjoyable popcorn film with entertaining visuals and great acting. If you can put up with the lack of depth the film looks to avoid then you will enjoy the film just as any other film. I believe this isn't a film you have to go straight to the theater to see this flim but could probably wait until DVD to watch this one.
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 Final Grade:  B

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