Sunday, 17 February 2013

Film Review: Gangster Squad

About the film
Gangster Squad is a 2013 crime film. It was released at the cinema on 10th January and it has a run time of 113 minutes. The film is rated 15 due to strong violence and bad language.

Set in 1949, gangster Micky Cohen has become the most powerful figure in the crime world of California. Not content with his already booming empire, Cohen plans to move further out and take over Chicago and New York as well. Everyone either fears Cohen or works for him so no one has the nerve to try to stop him. Until now. Sergeant John O’Mara and a group of others put together by the chief of the LAPD begin working together to take down the gangster boss and finish him once and for all. They call themselves the ‘Gangster Squad’.

Josh Brolin as Sergeant John O'Mara
Ryan Gosling as Sergeant Jerry Wooters
Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen
Emma Stone as Grace Faraday.
Nick Nolte as Chief Bill Parker
Mireille Enos as Connie O'Mara
Anthony Mackie as Detective Coleman Harris
Giovanni Ribisi as Detective Conwell Keeler
Michael Peña as Detective Navidad Ramirez
Robert Patrick as Detective Max Kennard
Sullivan Stapleton as Jack Whalen
Holt McCallany as Karl Lennox

What I thought
I love a good action movie as well as loving hot guys who act in them. What better than to add in gun, violence, gangsters and Ryan Gosling. Obviously, I wanted to see this film as soon as I had heard about it.

Gangster Squad has a fantastic cast and I’m not just talking about Ryan Gosling. Josh Brolin leads as Sergeant John O’Mara, a cop who doesn’t care about the consequences of going in and doing what he knows his right. He doesn’t really follow the rules and he rarely listens to what he is supposed to do. O’Mara has issues though, having come out of the war and knows no other way to act. As a character, he’s quite hard and although sometimes it came across as standoffish, it was more that he knew what he wanted. Still though, there are times when we get to see inside his family life and are able to see a softer side to him which was nice.

Sean Penn was fantastic as the gangster boss Micky Cohen. Cohen is a real piece of work and honestly, I would be terrified of him too. Penn puts into his character everything that you can imagine a gangster being. He has a cocky accent, a gruff and messed up looking face as well as dressing the part as well. As Cohen, Penn was very believable and although I know nothing about gangsters, I thought he was very realistic at the same time. However, I do feel as though we could have gotten more from the character. More from his past maybe. More about why he ended up the way he is. I don’t know, just something more.

As much as I love Emma Stone, she was undeniably underused in this film. Stone plays love interest Grace Faraday, the girlfriend of Cohen. However, she is also the love interest for Ryan Gosling’s character, Sergeant Jerry Wooters as well. Stone looks stunning in some fabulous dresses and dark lipsticks, matching the luxurious hairstyles and she looks every bit the part of the gangster’s girlfriend. However, her character is little more than a damsel in distress. There is no depth with her, no background history, no nothing really. She looks great, has great chemistry with Gosling but not much else. Don’t get me wrong, Stone is very good in her role but I think that she could have been much more than that.

As a crime film, Gangster Squad has plenty of guns and plenty of violence. I’m not the kind of girl to shy away from things like this and instead, I really love films with lots of violence. The beginning of the film sets the scene for the kinds of violence we are about to see through the whole film. If you think gangsters and ways of killing people, that’s exactly what you get here. Some scenes, especially the first, are really gruesome and there is loads of blood. Not only is there a lot of bloody violence but there are plenty of car chases and gun/ fight scenes to keep you entertained. I found the whole film extremely exciting and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Gangster Squad was a lot more stylish than I had imagined it to be for some reason. The late 40s costumes along with the bars and nightlife mixed in with the gangster scene all fit really well together. I loved the mix of luxury with the downright dirty and seedy. This film gives plenty of different perspectives on the era and it is shot beautifully. There were some scenes reminding me of the ‘crash’, ‘bang’, ‘wallop’ bits of cartoons/ comics which also helped to add to the atmospheric feeling of the film.

All in all, while I did really love Gangster Squad, there were things that could have made it even better. Character development was severely lacking in some places and the dialogue a bit wooden in some parts. Really, the action and fights are what make this film so good, along with the way that it looks on the screen. Still, highly recommended. 

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