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“Gangster Squad” – Early Review (SO-SO)

January 10, 2013

Screen shot 2013-01-10 at 10.15.20 PMThis movie has a dynamite cast! Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Sean Penn! We should get a dynamite movie right? Well we do in a sense that all the action in the movie is dynamite, as for story, character development, and emotional attachment to them, it lacks the dynamite. Ok, I’ll can the dynamite, I feel like I’m becoming J.J. from “Good Times”, which this film rarely has…ooouch.

Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and-if he has his way-every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart, they are…THE GANGSTER SQUAD!

You see that description up above? It sounds so epic, so cool, and so awesome, how could the movie just give us the bare minimum? It’s style gives off a very…superhero vibe and not a…“Road to Perdition” one, which it should’ve been. The cinematography, it’s color palette, it all reminded me a lot of Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen”. The direction wasn’t very good either, you have the man behind “Zombieland” leading the way. Not to say Ruben Fleischer is a bad director, he’s a good comic direct (except for “30 Mins or Less”), ok so he’s only made one good movie, but to do something more dramatic and Oscar friendly, that’s quite the leap for a third film, after coming off a first time comic success and a second flop.

The movie mixes too much light-hearted jokey humor, blended with grim ultra-violent attitude. It doesn’t have the right balance of what it’s trying to evoke. Not just that, but the movie also does a piss poor job by having us care for these characters, I felt zero emotional connection to any single one of these characters. The only one I seemed to connect to on any sort of level was Sean Penn’s Mickey Cohen. Penn hams it up big time in this performance, although from what I’ve learned about Cohen in past history classes, Penn doesn’t give much charm to the character as the history book perceived him to be. Penn’s Cohen was all about being a “Dick Tracy” gang and not a larger than life realistic gangster. Nonetheless, I did enjoy his performance, out of everyone he steals it all.

As we kick off the new year, there are sure to be bigger and better movies than this lackluster of a gangster picture. But, if you’re not in the mood to see “Texas Chainsaw 3D”, or tired of the Oscar-mania, I’ll at least recommend this movie for a matinee viewing, because when push comes to shove, “Gangster Squad” is good enough for just that…or a rental. You know what, now I know what was truly wrong with it, NOT ENOUGH EMMA!

GRADE: C

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