Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gangster Squad (2012) - Ruben Fleischer

Gangster Squad (2012)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Will Beall (screenplay), Paul Lieberman (book)
Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick

You would think by now I would have learned to trust my instincts about movies. Sometimes you watch a movie trailer and even though you can't quite put your figure on what, something screams "This is going to be terrible! Avoid it at all costs." The trailers for Gangster Squad (2012) gave me that feeling and I chose to ignore it.

The movie stars Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone, there's no way it could be all bad, right? These three actors wouldn't read a terrible script and decide to go ahead and make the movie anyway. Well, I was wrong. Somehow all these actors read this terrible script and decided that it would make an amazing movie.

Now, when I say the script it terrible, I really mean it. The script is so by-the-numbers, I could tell you everything that was going to happen within the first 15 minutes of the movie. It felt like the script was written by someone who just finished reading "Basic Screenwriting for Dummies." Everything, and I mean everything, that happened in the movie was telegraphed very early on and there was not a single surprise. It was one of those movies where as soon as a character is introduced, you knew whether or not they would survive until the end of the film.

Let's take a moment to go back and talk about all the great actors that were in the movie. Did they all forget that they actually knew how to act? Emma Stone spent most of the movie just mugging for the camera. Don't get me wrong, she looked pretty great for most of the movie. However, she didn't bring anything interesting to her character at all. Of course, none of the actors brought anything interesting to their roles. Ryan Gosling starts the film with a ridiculous (and unplaceable) accent and halfway through the movie he either forgot about it or realized how ridiculous it was and completely dropped it.

Emma might as well be making the duck-face
and adding this picture to her Facebook wall. 
The only characters in the film that were remotely interesting were the wife of Josh Brolin's character and Robert Patrick's gunslinger character. Mireille Enos managed to make her character of Connie O'Mara somewhat tangible and human. Her reaction to her husband putting together a squad to fight the gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn in ridiculous, washed-up-boxer makeup) was probably the only time anyone in the film showed real emotion. Robert Patrick's gunslinger Max Kennard was the most animated and humorous character in the movie. I believe Robert Patrick realized how bad the script was and just decided to have fun with his scenes and not take it seriously.

Overall the movie was just an exercise in style-over-substance except there wasn't all that much style. Personally, I normally love a gangster movie with men and women running around in 1940s period outfits but the camera work and direction didn't show them off. Everyone seemed so worried about looking pretty that they forgot to actually do anything else. This movie was like the dreaded duck-face photos that people post on Facebook. You think putting your lips in a big kissy face makes you look good but it really makes you look like you are trying too hard.

Now, the movie wasn't all bad. There were a couple good action sequences that were pretty fun to watch. I'll never pass up watching a shoot out with tommy guns. While the action sequences did look good, everything that led up to them made you question why they took place. They seemed to be thrown in to have something exciting in the movie. The decisions characters made that led up to those sequences made no sense. Characters constantly made idiotic choices and no matter how cool the action sequences were, I can not forgive that.

In the end, this is one of those movies you pretty much forget about as soon as you see it because it has no idea what it wants to be. There isn't enough action for it to be a mindless, over-the-top action movie. The script and acting aren't good enough for it to be a serious drama. It isn't funny enough to be a tongue-in-cheek look at gangster movies. It tries to be all of those things and fails miserably.

Rating: 3/10

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