Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Review: Gangster Squad

With a savage opening scene, Ruben Fleischer sets the tone for his new mobster film set in Los Angeles, 1949. Based on a true story, Gangster Squad tells the tale of the demise of Mickey Cohen, LA gangster, heroin dealer and racketeer, at the hands of a pack of LA PD cops tasked with "bringing down" his clan.

Indeed, the opening scene sees Cohen, played by the brilliant albeit prosthetics enhanced Sean Penn, order his henchmen to chain a hapless thug from Chicago between two cars and tear him in half. Moments later, we see John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) storm one of Cohen's hotels in order to save a "damsel in distress" from exploitation by kicking, punching and shooting his way through the building. In the space of five minutes Fleischer has successfully established Penn as the "villain" and Brolin as the "honest cop". There's nothing atypical about this mobster movie.

The audience is subjected to further scenes of violence in order to reinforce the brutal "take-no-prisoners" attitude of the real life mob boss before O'Mara is tasked with compiling a squad to "take back the city". Included in his squad is a tech-head, a sharp shooter and a rookie along with Sergeant Jerry Wooters - played by industry-dubbed heart throb Ryan Gosling - who reluctantly stands by his partner, O'Mara. If the film wasn't stereotypical enough already, Jerry complicates the assignment by pursuing the gangster's moll, Grace Farraday (Emma Stone).

Despite the star-studded cast, critics have slated Gangster Squad as "superficial" with its glamorous costumes and production and have gone so far as to accuse it of being "too violent". However, I would disagree wholeheartedly. Both Brolin and Penn are believable in their opposing roles and certainly bring the brawn while the chemistry between Gosling and Stone is equally as evident as it was in Crazy Stupid Love.

The film captures the audience instantly and maintains a fast pace throughout. To those who dub this film yet another over-violent, stereotypical mobster film: I must remind you that Gangster Squad is based on a true story and the violence is incorporated, without being excessive, in order to reflect the fierce control the mob exerted during this era. This slick film is thrilling and easy watch with eye candy for the ladies and the gents.

Gangster Squad review score: 7/10

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Chelle. With such a talented cast, I was expecting a masterpiece. Unfortunately, this doesn't even come close.