Gangster Squad Blows My Brains Out….and Everyone Else’s

15 Feb

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I was really excited to see Gangster Sqaud. Liked the trailer a lot ( and how could I not after seeing it a bazillion times ) and I adore Emma Stone. Some of the negative reviews on this film from rottentomatoes.com really put myself and Kenny off this movie but walking out of the theatre we were shocked that it had been so poorly received after we had found it suspenseful and fun to watch.

The film is set in L.A. in 1949 and centres around Sgt. John O’Mara played by Josh Brolin ( of No Country for Old Men) and Sgt. Jerry Wooters played by Ryan Gosling (of Blue Valentine, Drive ). L.A. is being overrun by gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn of Mystic River) a nasty piece of work who is obsessed with running L.A. into the ground and controlling it mercilessly. O’Mara is commissioned by the chief to start a special task force to just go out and straight up murder/torture anyone associated with  Cohen. O’Mara recruits a number of other interesting gentlemen to help with this task on the recommendation of his pregnant wife who is apparently good a picking dudes for murder task forces. ( A specialized skill, I should think. ) O’Mara and the rest of the boys apparently have license of pull all sorts of shenanigans which they do, and which is really great fun to watch. However, when you mess with someone has as homicidal as Cohen, you’re bound to get stabbed…or shot…..or killed in any number of creative ways.

This film has a lot going for it; interesting relationship conflict between O’Mara and his wife, who, for some strange reason, doesn’t want him to get his face stabbed in, the relationship between Wooters and Cohen’s unfaithful girlfriend played by Emma Stone as well as the general good guys vs. bad guys and the classic “where’s the line separating them?” dilemma. However, this movie is all about style over substance. None of these story lines are fully fleshed out in favour of car chases, gun fights and dudes beating other dudes faces in. There are some great stylistic choices which show off the excellent photography, beautiful costumes. and admirable camera work.

When I read the reviews for this movie, the overwhelming violence was mentioned frequently but I scoffed at the notion, after all, it’s not like it’s a Tarantino flick or something. Boy, was I surprised. This film is definitely violence-packed, and creatively so.  It wasn’t too much for me but I would definitely hesitate to show this to the under sixteens.

Recommendation: A fun, violent, stylish good time.  Don’t go any with high expectations for plot or character development.

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