Posted by: greercn | January 13, 2013

Gangster Squad

It’s great to see a modern take on the old film noir genre. Set in Los Angeles in 1949, the story follows a group of police working to shut down an organised crime cartel, led by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn in full creepy mode).

Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling play the main two cops. They do a good job, but are let down by a script that falls a little too much in love with itself, at times.

The backgrounds and sets are absolutely lovely to look at. Every car, street and item of clothing gives you a real feeling of post-war LA. I only know this time and place from movies, but it always feels like everyone stays in character and in period.

Of course, any fan of old film noir will notice that the look of the actors themselves is just wrong for a police story set in 1949. But everyone gives it their best shot and it’s a really enjoyable movie.

Nick Nolte is on screen too briefly as the chief of police.

Emma Stone and Mireille Enos are the two main female stars, but there is not much for women to do in this tale of boys fighting the bad guys. Yes, there are lots of gunfights and explosions and they are all wonderful.

A nightclub, music and dancing feature in some scenes, but it’s the dramatic big scenes in Chinatown and in a hotel lobby that shine out best.

Everyone at Stratford Picturehouse seemed to really enjoy it and the 113 minutes passed in a blur of big effects, albeit with a few talkie scenes that felt like they were from another movie.

“Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer directs and his offbeat way of looking at action is distinctive.

“Gangster Squad” deserves to be seem by anyone who likes a good crime story. It claims to be “based on true events” but I fear that phrase makes me yawn. Paul Lieberman wrote the book of the same title, if you want to read more about this tale. I imagine the LA police department is pleased with the terrific publicity about their own good guys.

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