8.2 out of 10
‘Gangster Squad’ is one of those movies that turns out to be everything you expect from the trailer. It is a great period piece with a good cast, a few funny lines and a whole lot of shooting. It’s a gangster film, nothing more, nothing less. This one is above the curve in the genre, but it’s not going to write new curriculum for the next classes to learn. So, to finish off the school analogy, ‘Squad’ gets a ‘B’.
‘Gangster Squad’ may not blow you away, but it certainly does for a lot of the bad guys.
Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.
Gangster Squad opens in Baltimore on January 11, 2013.
Ok, Academy, I know you are taking a lot of flak for another controversial round of nominations. But, let me help you out a little. Sean Penn needs to be on your radar for the 2014 awards for his portrayal of Mickey Cohen. He is fantastic. No, he beat up, shot and killed fantastic and took over its territory. That’s how good he is as Cohen.
I am also pretty convinced Emma Stone was born in the wrong decade. She sure can pour herself into an evening gown. sdcadvdacdds (sorry, my chin just hit the keyboard)
Gangster Squad does a very good job making you feel like you are in 1940s California. The settings, costumes, cars and even the dialogue fit right in – at least, I assume they do from what I’ve heard of that time. This is one of the most important features of a gangster film and ‘Squad’ gets high marks for it. Since the genre has been done over and over again the audience is getting tougher and tougher to impress. This time around, director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) decides to take a more stylized approach. Think about it this way, things are much more shiny and vivid when you compare to other grittier films like The Godfather or Goodfellas. It is a nice change of pace.
Gangster Squad is definitely an enjoyable film. There is plenty of good dialogue, relatable characters, action and plenty of story to carry the film.
The first thing that came to mind when I was thinking of what to put in this section was the word ‘unmemorable.’ There is nothing flashy or poignant that will stick with you past the first 25 feet of parking lot as you walk to your car. With the exception of Sean Penn as Cohen, none of the characters are remarkable in any way. None of them contribute enough to the film to be an individual positive, but they work as a group. But, memorable characters help make a film memorable, and ‘Squad’ missed out on that.
There are several plot gaps that are probably very easy to explain, but the film never explains them. The writers simply jumped from one point to the next and didn’t tell the audience how they got there. This will not really detract from one’s enjoyment of the film, but many may stop to think about it and it is distracting. So, no detractions, just distractions. It is a bit disappointing too, because pretty much all of the gaps could have been remedied by a single line of dialogue.
As with so many movies nowadays there are some head-scratching things done solely for the entertainment value. The best example is in a spoiler below and, trust me, it’s not much of a spoiler, but I hate giving anything away. 99% of you would have no problem reading it before seeing the movie.
[SMALL SPOILER] – Why did John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) decide to have a fist fight with Mickey Cohen? Cohen was a former boxing champion. No matter how mad I was at Jet Li I would not challenge him to a martial arts fight.
The Bottom Line
If you enjoy gangster flicks or even just decent action movies, this is worth the ticket price. Gangster Squad would make for a fun night at the theaters. There have been better mob movies made, but there have been a lot far worse. The acting, period piece elements, dialogue and action make this one a nice 2-hour escape. Sean Penn would probably be worth the price alone, but there is more to like than just his awesome performance. The forgettable nature of the film and few plot gaps and Hollywood gimmicks shouldn’t be enough to keep fans away. And, hey, who doesn’t want to see a dozen guys in a crowded street unloading Tommy guns at each other?