Monday, 14 January 2013

GANGSTER SQUAD

Last night, I went to see Gangster Squad, a film which is, unsurprisingly, about gangsters. Essentially, mobster Mickey Cohen is taking over 1920s Los Angeles and Josh Brolin and his band of misfit straight cops are to take him down off the books. It's got a good cast, including Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Anthony Mackie, and it really wasn't too bad.

In fact, I only had one issue with it. Now I have two, because one occurred to me just a minute ago, but immediately after viewing the film, it was just one. Sean Penn as the bad guy. Now, I haven't seen much of Penn's work, but I'm led to believe he's an incredible actor. I think he was the only weak link in this film. Maybe it was just how he chose to play the character (or how someone else wanted him to play it) but he's just ridiculous. The film had a surprising amount of humour, but he was so over the top that every scene with him made me cringe a little.

The other problem, the one that just occurred to me, is more of a plot thing which there was probably an explanation for in the book (it's based on a novel of the same name by Paul Lieberman) but got glossed over in the film. Why don't the mob guys recognise the cops that are trying to take them down? I got the impression that actually, Los Angeles was quite a small town and everyone knew someone who knew someone else. Thinking back, it seems ludicrous that they managed to operate under the radar, and it was never mentioned what the other cops thought they were up to when they were off doing secret work. Hm. I may have to read the book and see how this is dealt with there.

But yeah, other than that, I enjoyed the film. Emma Stone continues her streak of being utterly wonderful, and Ryan Gosling was very good as well. I could actually understand every word he said in this film without the aid of subtitles, which made a nice change. I'm not really familiar with Josh Brolin's body of work either, but I thought he was good, too.

I wasn't planning to mention the rewriting and reshooting that took place after the Aurora tragedy - for those of you who somehow missed it, a crucial scene involving gangsters shooting through the screen at a cinema audience was cut after a some guy opened fire on cinema-goers - but I feel it is worth a mention. I genuinely have no idea where that scene was supposed to be in the movie or what was changed to accommodate its removal, which I'm actually very pleased about. I was concerned that the film would suffer as a result of last-minute changes, but it wasn't. I saw an interview with the director where he said he thought the film was actually better, and though I obviously can't speak to that, I can say that the resulting film is seamless. Except for the plot issue I mentioned above.



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