March 8, 2013

JustSON at the Movies: Ganster Squad

I was able to catch Ganster Squad last night at The Olympic Club in Centralia, which is an awesome late-release theater in the back of one of their bars. It allows you to get drinks and menu items in a relaxed lounge atmosphere while watching the movie. For $2, I was pleasantly entertained for an evening with Gangster Squad.

That being said though, it could have been better. This movie was kind of like the Sam Bowie of flicks. It had a great cast, intriguing time piece concept and what appeared to be good characters. But it fell flat.

The first two/thirds of the movie where we're introduced to the crew of Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and a specially assembled crew of cops that try to take down mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) in post-WW2 Los Angeles. For the first part of the movie, the stylish and funny take on the story really works. You find yourself really enjoying what's happening even though its been done before in just about  every gangster/underworld of Hollywood movie.

That's fine though, I wasn't expecting Oscar-worthy material here. It was definitely sliding in at a solid B rating, something I might pick up on DVD and pop in whenever my friends and I wanted to watch a good flick with plenty of one-liners.

Then the last third of the movie hit and it all kind of fell flat. A couple of things really started to get annoying or rear their ugly head by this point.

1. Gosling starts out in the movie as this kind of on-the-fence cop and his careless attitude really works in that part of the movie. It just feels like he stops acting and his scenes with Emma Stone are about as flat as you can be. Not what you want when you're going for that glamorous "Golden Age of Hollywood" feel.

2. There's plenty of characters in this film, but they're never really fleshed out or really explored. They just become stereotypes and that means you care less about them.

3. Sean Penn's portrayal of Mickey Cohen is cartoonish at best. They don't paint him as a clever guy just someone who is extremely violent. The most annoying part was when he would kill his underlings for failing him instead of just seeking out the Gangster Squad members and killing them. Cohen goes around killing everyone else except the Gangster Squad, who don't wear masks and leave the mobsters at the scene alive to identify them. So he's not a respectable villain. Not at all.

4. The action moved along well until we hit the "Cohen strikes back and makes general life hell for the Gangster Squad members" part of the movie. For the above mentioned reason, people die without a real reason, and then two main characters are killed without any real affect or outcome on the story. Everything gets muddled and just becomes a movie trailer without any real cause and effect or reason for actions being taken.

That being said though, still a somewhat enjoyable ride. Popcorn flick for sure. Just don't expect to have your mind blown.

Final Grade: 3 out of 5

(Get the Gangster Squad Blu-ray here.)

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