Gangster Squad Blu-ray
Gangster Squad laces a period setting with up-to-the-minute jokes and camera tricks. The film offers a lot in the way of authenticity to the period, including costumes, music, and turns of phrase, but loses authenticity in the way the film is shot. It’s fast-paced and wild and a little like a superhero film, only our heroes are anti-heroes, cops that have forsaken the badge to take down an incomprehensibly evil mob boss—Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).
The film follows this crew of anti-heroes, led by Sgt. O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and populated by other rogue police officers played by big name actors, including Ryan Gosling, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’s Anthony Mackie. The movie delves into plenty of violence, including the shoot ‘em up variety, as well as plenty of cruel moments orchestrated by the big, bad Cohen himself.
Gangster Squad even offers a love story between the most basic damsel-in-distress of all time, Grace, (Emma Stone) and Gosling’s character, Sgt. Jerry Wooters. In order to make the movie even longer than normal, Grace gets into a relationship with Cohen while simultaneously seeing Wooters, which causes problems all around. There’s no real intrigue to the love story, which is a shame, because we could have had a real tough cookie in Grace's character. Instead, the one redeeming female character is O’Mara’s wife (Mireille Enos) and she’s relegated to a few scenes in the kitchen or on the couch.
Fans looking for an authentic gangster era film or even an authentic interpretation of gangster behavior (or police behavior, for that matter) won’t find it in Gangster Squad. Like Mackie’s other big film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, history has been distorted in favor of creating a stylistic vision of an era. That isn’t to say that Ruben Fleischer’s film isn’t entertaining, it is, but it does require its audience to buy in and go along for the ride, not matter how ridiculous the actual plot may get.
You can order Gangster Squad over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Unlike the movie, the bonus features on the disc are full of historically relevant information about mobsters coming in from the outside, the real-life Gangster Squad, and the shenanigans Cohen used to get into. I really like “The Set-Up (Focus Points),” a segment that looked into this historically information. Members of the actual Gangster Squad, as well as the children of Gangster Squad members, trade stories about tommy guns and the good guys and bad guys shooting insults at one another in the streets.
Clearly, real-life offered less shoot ‘em up scenes than this movie, but I still wish this film had offered more of the historical stuff.
Other Special Features:
Commentary with Director Ruben Fleischer
“The Gangland Files”
“Tough Guys with Style”