Gangster Squad — Movie Review #JPMN

• Gangster Squad (2013) — Well-executed, but unimpressively familiar, 6/10.

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~~ Movie Night Reviews ~~
Each “Quick Review” is an excerpt from a full episode. Incorporating viewer comments and tweets, your host and film critic Jonathan Paula reviews everything from opening day releases, recent DVDs, upcoming trailers, and classics from years past. Along with your votes, these films are scored on the “Rate-O-Matic” for a 1-10 ranking. A “Five Word Summary” quickly encapsulates each review while “Factor Facts” highlight the the best and worst features of a movie in each of ten key categories. New, full episodes of Movie Night air on the JPizzle1122 channel every Friday, (Nov. through May).

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• Jogwheel Productions © 2013 •

~~ Review Script ~~
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures on January 11, 2013 this R rated period-drama set in 1940’s Hollywood has already earned back half of its sixty-million dollar budget in only its first week. Director Ruben Fleicher commendably recreates  the Golden-age of southern California with a sharp and sophisticated filming style very reminiscent of the time period he’s trying to capture. But I couldn’t help but feel many of the sets and locations felt like a poor man’s “LA Confidential”… or a live-action adaptation of Rockstar’s awesomely fun “LA Noire” video game. Josh Brolin does a descent job leading an ensemble cast of veteran actors, and his character in the film leads the titular “Gangster Squad”, a group of off-the-book LA cops who swear to do whatever it takes to take down mobster Mickey Cohen. Academy Award winner Sean Penn plays the mafia-boss, and his devilish delivery is one of the film’s truly terrific performances, remarking to a henchman, “A cop that’s not for sale is like a dog with rabies — you just got to put them down”. Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick, and Nick Nolte contribute smaller, unmemorable performances, but it was nice seeing the two older guys in a big-budget film again. The standout performer is definitely Giovanni Ribisi, who continues a long and immensely successful career playing nuanced and complicated supporting-parts. In my opinion, he’s one of Hollywood’s most underrated talents, we’ve already reviewed six movies featuring the actor, and he is brilliant in all of them – and yet, he’s perhaps the least famous member of the cast. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling continue their on-screen chemistry from their previous pairing in “Crazy Stupid Love”, and work just as well together here, even if their actual relationship is reduce to merely a few lines of generic dialog. Actually, mostly the entire movie is filled with tired and unimpressive dialog… the inconsistently serious plot plays out with a ho-hum familiarity… nothing here is particularly exciting or original. Following the tragic events of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting in July, an entire scene of this film had to be re-shot, as the original version had characters firing submachine guns at moviegoers right through that very screen, here in Grauman’s Chinese Theater. While this film contains some curiously unmotivated, and perhaps over-used slow-motion, a neat sequence has the film pausing on each and every gun-shot, as the muzzle-flashes fill up the room with quick bursts of violent light. Conversely, a third-act fist-fight was seemingly shot on video, and the altered frame-rate of this one sequence distracted from the already tensionless scene. At 113 minutes, this picture is paced well enough: the period music, costumes, and make-up do enough to immerse you in the seedy and glitzy world of a mafia-run Los Angeles. Heavily stylized, this movie ultimately left me with a “been there, done that” feeling, few elements of the plot were fresh, and none of the story threads were particularly fascinating. Occasional sequences of violence and fast-paced action will keep you interested, but it’s unlikely I’ll watch this again any time soon. “Gangster Squad”, “Well-executed, but unimpressively familiar.” 


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