Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gangster Squad [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Zombieland is one of my favorite movies from 2009 and 30 Minutes or Less is a pretty underrated comedy from 2011. So when I heard Ruben Fleischer was doing a gangster and noire movie I was quite excited to see it. Add in the fact it's built around the story of Mickey Cohen, with the likes of Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pena and Emma Stone acting, how could this go wrong? Well, for me, it was wrong almost from the get go.

Gangster Squad follows the story of Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) as he hunts down the infamous Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) in LA. We open the movie with Mickey Cohen interrogating a man until he has two cars pull off in opposite directions, tearing the man in half. Meanwhile O'Mara saves a woman from Cohen's thugs and is selected by Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) to head a task-force to catch Mickey Cohen. O'Mara's pregnant wife, Connie (Mireille Enos), helps select the men. They are: a detective, Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), a wire-tapper, Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribsbi), and a gangster killer and his partner Max Kennard and Navidad Rameriz (Robert Patrick and Michael Pena). Turning down an offer is O'Mara's close friend Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who is infatuated with Cohen's girlfriend Grace Faraday (Emma Stone). The two eventually start a secret relationship, but a young boy that Wooters knows is killed after Cohen calls a hit. This causes Wooters rethinks O'Mara's proposition and this new squad has their sights on taking down Mickey Cohen and his organization.

Oh boy, I'm not a fan of this movie. From within the first five minutes I knew this would be a fight for me to finish. Unfortunately I figuratively tapped about around the hour and 20 minute mark of this nearly two hour movie. Length was definitely a problem for me with this one. My other problems start with surprisingly, gore. Like I said in my summary, right off the bat we get a dude getting ripped in half. Also in the early goings you have a man losing his hand to an elevator and three men getting burned alive. These are almost like leftover kills he didn't get to do in Zombieland or something. I don't mind violence in the least, but this was borderline SAW at times. It really didn't fit. The shootout scenes were pretty fun though, I guess. I like old school cars from the period driving up and getting blasted with Tommy guns and other automatic weapons. But the well made violence is few and far between. Most scenes turn into a shootout. If it's not a shootout though it's unnecessary gore.

My other problems come with all these different characters. While there is a ton of acting talent in this movie, there's no denying that, I don't really identify with any of the characters. You have decent development for Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen, Josh Brolin as John O'Mara and the duo of Gosling and Stone as Jerry Wooter and Grace Faraday. But there are still so many other characters that are important to this movie it's almost impossible to get decent development out of everyone. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth there's so many people on screen I just never cared about. The story is pretty good, but it's written so badly and with so much needless dialogue and dragging scenes, it was hard for me to stay into it. I love great dialogue, but this movie has so many back and forths that were just plain uninteresting. Humor, when used, felt forced as well and that's never a good thing either.

I love the crime thriller and gangster genre, but Gangster Squad doesn't live anywhere near up to the genre in any way. I love Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte and Michael Pena. But it was embarrassing to see them in this. Too many characters, who most don't get enough development, in a uninspired story with lackluster acting, amount to huge disappointment. With all this talent and a decent man directing, in Ruben Fleischer, this should've been way better than it was. If it was anything. I wish they had delayed putting this movie out at all. There is nothing redeeming about this movie.

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