‘Gangster Squad’ – Film Thoughts/Review

For a long time the script for ‘GANGSTER SQUAD’, has been in development. It was effected by the writers’ strike in 2007 and just before its release got pushed back to a January 2013 date for reshoot after the shootings in a cinema during a midnight screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ occurred meaning they had to take out a sequence which involved a shoot out in a cinema.  So it is clear that it’s been a long road for Warner Bros to get this film made and released, and clearly something major to have on their slate for such a long period of time.  This film is directed by Ruben Fleischer, director of the entertaining ‘Zombieland’ and ’30 Minutes or Less’.  It also has an  impressive cast including that of  a very square jawed – Josh Brolin, shot like a 30’s pin-up boy – Ryan Gosling, and a camp Mickey Cohen make up enhanced Sean Penn.

Visually the whole thing is shot like an ultra violent pulp/noir comic book. The cinematography brings a look (and Good vs. Evil vibe) of ‘Dick Tracy’ vibe to it. In fact the visuals are that lush and true to a comic book you would think that since this has been a success, Warner Bros might want to give Fleischer one of their DC Comic properties to him down the road, as it certainly would be a unique look to the film. Regarding its cinematography these comic book visual bring a weird haze to characters movement, and that even weirder when the camera shot is central focus is on the head of one of the actors meaning when the rest of his torso moves to look almost slow motion. The only issue I have with this, is the fact that when it has the ‘’This is based on a true story’’ title card at the beginning, you could expecting something which hasn’t been shot like a comic book and some serious drama. That and also with this comic book visual you might expect a little more humour particully from someone with the pedigree of bring a good balance of comedy and action while not sacrificing any of a stories importance.

There is also a romantic subplot between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (as the Femme Fatale) which feels forced, and sadly lacks the spark of that seen in 2011’s very good ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’.  That and the fact that Emma Stone’s character does seem under developed.  However remember this is very much a boys-own 1930’s Comic Book, so perhaps that more to do with the films tone.  Saying that though you do get a good sense of the other characters within the Squad (that of Robert Patrick, Michael  Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and Anthony Mackie) with their token attributes and Rat Pack quality to them all. I like also how they only tackle crime by blowing stuff up as well. Also the Chinatown shoot out replacement for the cinema shoot out is engaging enough.  And I liked the whole use of that era’s music.

The best way to look at ‘Gangster Squad’ is that it is a 1930’s Comic Book come to life. This isn’t ‘The Untouchables’ nor is it any other sophisticated crime drama, and you do think the years in development, you might expect something a little bigger. But for what it is, it is very much a entertaining picture which should do it job for its target audience and engage with them for its running time. 

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