Monday, 21 January 2013

Film Review: "Gangster Squad" (2013).




"Every man carries a badge. Some symbol of his allegiance. His were the scars of a boxer who'd used his fists to climb the social ladder of the mob. A Jew who'd gained the respect of wops through a homicidal lust. He'd sworn an oath of violence. And his master? His own insatiable will to power. He wanted to own this town. His name was Mickey Cohen." This is the premise of Gangster Squad. This crime film directed by Ruben Fleischer, from a screenplay written by Will Beall based on the novel Tales from the Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman. Based on the story of LAPD officers and detectives forming a secret group called the "Gangster Squad unit", led by two determined sergeants work together, who attempt to keep Los Angeles safe from Mickey Cohen, who runs the city, and his gang during 1949.

The first trailer for Gangster Squad was released on May 9, 2012. In the wake of the mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, the trailer was pulled from most theaters running before films and airing on television, and removed from Apple's trailer site and YouTube due to a scene in which characters shoot submachine guns at moviegoers through the screen of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. It was later reported that the theater scene from the film would be either removed, or placed in a different setting since it is a crucial part of the film, and the film would undergo additional re-shoots of several scenes to accommodate these changes. This resulted in the release of Gangster Squad being delayed. About a week after the shootings in Aurora, Warner officially confirmed that the film would be released on January 11, 2013, bumped from the original September 7, 2012 release date. Two weeks later, on August 22, the cast reunited in Los Angeles to completely re-shoot the main action sequence of the film. The new scene was set in Chinatown where the Gangster Squad comes into open conflict with the gangsters as they strike back.

The film stars an ensemble cast that includes Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn. The performances in this film well generally mixed. The cast gave terrific performances but ultimately the characters were terribly under-developed and forgettable. The two talented actors that disappointed me the most were Emma Stone and Sean Penn. Stone's performance was disappointing because of her under-developed "damsel-in-distress" character had seemed to lack confidence and nostalgia, and I thought that Stone and Gosling had a much better chemistry in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) but in this film it curdles into lukewarm mush. Penn's performance was just as laughable as his silly looking make up.

Gangster Squad goes about its business without a trace of finesse. The film fails in the end. The best of the old noir crime dramas had lively pacing and crisp tough-guy dialogue. This movie seems at times like an exercise in slow motion and in dull, cumbersome writing.

Simon says Gangster Squad receives:


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