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Bad Movie Tuesday: Gangster Squad

June 4, 2013

Gangster Squad Ryan Gosling

Gangster Squad is the movie you want to like but know your personalities don’t mesh. You realize it’s potential but as you begin to ponder grenade physics and are reminded of Alien vs. Predator it is evident you’ve begun to nitpick. You don’t want to be negative so you begin looking for positives. Josh Brolin is believable beating people up, Ryan Gosling is Ryan Gosling and you are happy the guy from the cancelled television show Lights Out is getting work.

The positives fade as you watch in glum desperation while nothing works. You realize Michael Pena created more of character with one sentence in 30 Minutes or less than in the entirety of Gangster Squad.  You feel dirty with the thought of what Sean Penn does to poor Emma Stone. You’d rather watch Gosling not eat his cereal.

You feel bad for Mireille Enos who is stuck playing the wife in two delayed films (Gangster SquadWorld War Z) and forced to stand under rain machines on the much maligned The Killing.  You cringe as she says “you are a demon in the sack.” to a confused Brolin.

In the midst of all the drudgery you find another silver lining. These people get to dress up in gangster gear, shoot guns and hang out with a plethora of cool actors. Stone and Gosling get to reunite after Crazy Stupid Love. Also, You are stoked that Josh Brolin survived Jonah Hex. However, the silver lining gets dirty when a grenade explodes right next to the heroes car and there is zero shrapnel or damage.

Gangster Squad is the type of film where Giovani Ribisi is the normal one. When has he been the normal one? He is always kidnapping teddy bears, stealing cars, acting squirrelly and crunching blue people. In GS he is the nice guy with a family who will be murdered because he is the nice guy who has a family. I remember looking at my fiancee (who advised me not to watch the movie) and asking “they don’t kill his kid do they?”

Many people are murdered in Saw type ways. They murder people as if they studied the “Sam Raimi Guide to Blood Sprays. People get lit on fire, torn in half, fed to wolves, blown up, stabbed, tortured and one guy receives a drill to the head. I found this particular death to be very unnecessary due to the immense clean up afterward. There had to be a mass blood explosion as the drill hit the head. Suits were ruined, electricity was used and it didn’t send out a message because nobody saw it. It reminded me of a scene in Fast Five where the bad guy bashes a henchmen over the head with a metal object. Bloods gushes all over the office and the bloody death instrument is placed back on a glass table. Who cleans this up? How did they carry them dead guy out? Movie deaths are way too convenient.

Gangster Squad had one of the best casts of 2012 (Brolin, Gosling, Stone, Pena, Penn, Nolte, Mackie, Ribisi). However, it was plagued by reshoots (Aurora shooting) no cohesion and a director who couldn’t stick the landing on the much smaller crime caper 30 Minutes or Less. I wouldn’t place any blame on any one in particular. The movie just didn’t work. It reminded me of the 2012/2013 Los Angeles Lakers. A team that should have won a championship but due to egos, injuries and the Princeton offense didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs. No legacies will be garnished because both the Lakers and Gangster Squad will be looked at as failed experiments.

Gangster Squad is not so bad it is good. However, it is not so bad that it is memorable. Gangster Squad is a forgettable experiment that in making a hybrid gangster film.

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