So I went to see this movie with some bros on a whim because a few of the bros were convinced it would be a rip roaring good time. I saw it, and I didn't really have any intention of writing a review of it but two things changed my mind
1) I haven't reviewed anything made in the last couple...decades... in a while.
2) The local news paper where I live has a terrible person writing the movie reviews, and that person reviewed this movie completely wrong.
SO here it goes. Gangster Squad, a movie that indeed features gangsters in various squads, as well as other formations.
Lets start off with the aforementioned review. The reviewer in question, someone who I sincerely believe doesn't watch most of the movies they review, gave this movie two stars under the premise that it is a "hard boiled crime drama." What? Drama? No no no, Gangster Squad is not a drama, nor would I really call it hard boiled. Heres the thing dear readers. What label we choose to apply to a given movie/game/whatever stems from the core engagement that we seek or get from that movie/game/whatever. Take two big time AAA games, Halo and Fallout 3. Both have first person shooting as a core mechanic of game play, but they are generally separated into different categories, Halo getting the label of an FPS while Fallout 3 is usually considered an RPG. This is because the core engagement of the game, what you get from the game, is different. Halo your goal is to go from set piece to set piece shooting aliens in the face where as in Fallout you shoot guys to level up and customize your character and the way it performs, thus making it an RPG (for more discussion of this issue I suggest checking out the game gurus over at Extra Credits). So what does this have to do with Gangster Squad and the shitty reviewer? Well the reviewer called it something its totally not. Its not a drama, because its core engagement isn't drama. Its core engagement is balls to the wall action and testosterone at such a high level that I really haven't seen the likes of since The Expendables 2.
So this movie is essentially the A-team circa 1949. You've got Josh Brolin as Hannibal Smith, Ryan Gosling as the face man, and the rest of the team filling the roles of B. A. Barakus and Murdoch. Their mission; Wreck Sean Penn's organization and thus his face. Their method; full force badass tactics. Yeah there are dramatic elements whose level and hardness of "boiled" can be debated but really those bits are there just to launch the next series of double tommy gun wielding explosions. I mean, yeah, a movie that involves grenade fueled car chases, people getting drills in their faces, and a team of bad asses that include a cowboy gunslinger and his mexican pupil, a master knife thrower and Ryan Gosling being silly could be drama but in this instance, no way.
This movie is basically an 80s action movie. Its got explosions, guns, babes, and way over the top characters doing way over the top things. The bad guy is super evil, the good guys are super good, and they clash in epic battles. The general aesthetic is good too. Despite being an 80s action movie set in the 40s, and how that would lead you to believe it would be silly/clashing, they do a really good job of making it work. Most of the crap going on is unbelievable to begin with so they didn't have much to worry about but its still nice that they paid attention to the little things in creating the look and feel of the world.
Not...that much to be honest. Actually the worst part of the movie is two of its main characters. First, Ryan Gosling is supposed to be this suave savvy ladies man but in his attempt to pull off that character he comes off as a silly goober when he's talking normally and when he puts on the drama he comes off like a little bitch. Emma Stone plays the sultry love interest. Her role in the movie doesn't really do much to further the plot, nor is she involved in anything really important. Her existence leads to the death of one character I guess...other than that she is just there to be with Ryan Gosling and have some sex which...yeah...I guess fits in the motif of balls to the wall manly action, but honestly the movie could have been 30 mins shorter without her and wouldn't lose much.
The Final Verdict:
Go see this movie. Its honestly the best action movie I have seen in the theaters for years. Action as a genre in hollywood has gotten so stale and boring and needlessly serious that its refreshing to see something like this come along. Its a bit long for what it is and yeah Gosling could have been better but w/e its worth it. Though honestly if you wanted to wait until it comes out on video (look at THAT dated terminology!) totally go for it because 12 bucks for a ticket that allows you to sit amongst smelly fat people who are super rude is just a touch pricy.