Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Movie Review: “Gangster Squad”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Josh Brolin does very well as the no-nonsense, in-you-face, upholding-the-law...while breaking your face police officer, Sgt. John O’Mara. There isn’t much range to the constantly brooding one-man-wrecking crew Brodin portrays, but he doesn’t make it feel hokey. Ryan Gosling comes off smooth as warm butter in this film. He is well suited to play the silver tongued, easy walking Sgt. Jerry Wooters. Sean Penn is the bad guy. He plays Mickey Cohen, and plays him well for a role that calls for a warped sense of justified depravity.

The Plot: 

   Mickey Cohen owns Los Angeles in 1949. Every police officer in a prominent position, judges, politicians...all paid off or duly intimidated to ensure Cohen does exactly what he wants to do. He won’t let anyone tell him differently...not the law, and not rival mobsters from Chicago.

   Enter John O’Mara, a cop that’s not afraid to uphold the law...and doesn’t care about the delusions of grandeur of Mickey Cohen. A war veteran that hasn’t really come home, and recognizes the war raging in his city. Tasked by probably the last decent high ranking policeman, O’Mara recruits Wooters and four more willing souls (Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi) to take the fight to the Cohen empire.

   Taking themselves off the grid, with orders not to arrest Cohen, but utterly destroy everything he’s built, Los Angeles becomes a backdrop for blazing gun battles, in a war that will have profound consequences before it’s even close to being over.

The Verdict: 
   A film set in the 1940’s doesn’t have too much need for big budget special effects. Although I did spot some CGI, specifically the old classic cars as they raced across the dessert in a rampaging gun battle, it wasn’t on the scale of  some of the blockbusters that always hit theaters in the summer.

   The story is not unlike the classic tale of Elliot Ness. Honest cop wants to fight crime and bring down the local crime boss...honest cop recruits other honest cops and wages a campaign of justice. The only differences are the actual players, which simply can’t stray too far from what’s expected given the subject and time period the story is set in.

   The story seemed a bit rushed to me, probably because with so many complex players on the field, they had to leave enough room to insert the action, and grisly gangster scenes...that weren’t too vivid, but alluded to being as bad as we envisioned. Gosling had the most interesting character in the film, and being the only one in a dangerous romance, added a smooth edge to the roughness of the film.

   This film wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be and fell short of really breaking from a mold that has already been cast. I suppose it couldn’t be helped as it’s based on true events...but it still only had me dipping 2 1/2 cinnamon sticks, out of 5, in my cup of tea.

Rating: 2.5/5

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