Gangster Squad

Release date: January 11, 2013 Gangster Squad

No names. No badges. No mercy. Just gangstah.

What do you get when you mix an awesome title, phenomenal actors, the director of Zombieland and Hollywood of the 1940’s?

Awesome-sauce.

Gangster Squad is written by Will Beall (contracted for Justice League) and stars Josh “Will always be young Tommy Lee Jones to me and you” Brolin, Ryan “Can do the Dirty Dancing catch with me any day” Gosling, Sean “Can we start doing 6 Degrees of Penn now” Penn, Nick “Name sounds like a chocolate bar, and now I’m hungry” Nolte, Emma “Oh God please. Yes” Stone, Anthony “Boys with Eminem” Mackie, Michael “Looks so nice and sweet” Pena and Giovanni “has the world’s largest frog in his throat” Ribisi.

The flick follows Sgt. John O’Mara (Brolin) as he rounds up a gang of officers to take down retired boxer and notorious mobster boss Mickey Cohen (Penn) before he can take control of the western United States.

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WHAT WORKED:

– The acting. There’s nothing more pleasurable to my eyes during a film than to see a bunch of fantastic actors working together and just having fun. I really want to see the outtakes on the bluray release.

– The pacing. Gangster Squad is edited by Alan Baumgarten (Zombieland) and James Herbert (Sherlock Holmes.) This flick is filled with beautiful lengths that draw in the audience and could pull emotion for even the flattest of characters.

– Sean Penn. When I got home from seeing the film, my sister asked me how Sean Penn was and I said that “he was the dimmest light of all the stars but was still amazing in his roll.” This is not a knock to ol’ Penn but a huge complement. This wasn’t a film about the bad guy; this was a film about our hero taking down the bad guy and what he was creating. While Penn dominated many scenes he was in, his portrayal left Mickey Cohen human. Not a redeemable human, but someone who bleeds. A real person, far from the characture you assume he is, in the first five minutes.

– Josh Brolin. The ultimate hero. A man who knows how to do nothing but fight for what’s right. Brolin just has that face. He looks like Tommy Lee Jones and has that same mile long stare that just does all the talking.

– The style/look. The 1940’s/50’s is a time period that can easily be turned into a joke. But director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) took us to the truth behind the glamour like in L.A. Confidential.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

-The voiceover monologues. The only parts of Gangster Squad I couldn’t reason or logic out, are the opening and closing monologues. They just always feel sitcom-y if they’re done open ended, or without reason like a character telling the story to someone.

– The slowmo gun sequence. There’s a moment in the third act where Fleischer pay a huge hommage to many old Gangster films with a shootout on some stairs. The action then turns and revolves around a Christmas tree and it gets cheesy.

THE LOWDOWN:

What you’re going to get when you put on pants or a skirt to see Gangster Squad in the cinema is a beautifully crafted film filled with emotion, awesome acting and Emma Stone. (worth the price of admission alone.) Gangster Squad harkins back to the days of great mob flicks like Goodfellas, and leaves you with a satified feeling and an urge to buy a three-piece suit and hat. It’s far from a perfect film and likely will be forgotten come Oscar season 2014 but dammit, Gangster Squad is Verified Awesome.

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