Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster SquadGangster Squad

Release Date: January 11, 2013

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone

Runtime: 113 min

Tagline: No names. No badges. No mercy.

This follows the true story of a crew of police officers who mean to take down a ruthless mob boss, Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), who runs 1949 Los Angeles.

This certain crew is comprised of: Its leader, Sergeant John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), Sergeant Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), knife-thrower Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), the best gunslinger in L.A., Max Kennard (Robert Patrick), his mentee, Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña) and the brain, Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi). They’re all up against the big old Micky Cohen and collection of bought cops.

Mickey Cohen does not have a soul. He’s ruthless, and he would rip apart a man with two cars and then feed him to the dogs. He wears an ugly grimace and he has some ridiculous lines of dialogue that don’t make a lot of sense. That’s practically the job qualities someone must have to be a gangster.

He is well-acted by Sean Penn, and he is exactly as cartoonish and over-the-top as one would think a power-hungry gangster would be. That’s practically all the characterization done for him.

The other characters are only slightly characterized, but they are well-acted by the attractive and talented cast. Jerry is established as a man who will whatever he must, as long as he protects the people he loves. This is expressed for his caring for Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), a woman who wanted to be a star but ended up with Mickey Cohen. Jerry’s initial fuel to join the squad is the death of a young boy trying to make a dollar on the street when Cohen ordered his men to shoot an enemy of him. The only other really characterized characters are John O’Mara and Conway Keeler, and they are both established as family men. These are the only characters whose home lives get shown, the others might as well just kill people all the time.

There’s a fair deal of violence and exhilarating action but it isn’t non-stop. It takes a break to let us know what’s going on and build the storyline. This makes the film both dramatic, filled with crime and very fun. While the storyline does not challenge its audience on an intellectual level on any sort, it is present. It’s simply a group of cops who work both sides of the law against a ruthless mob boss. Their killings is necessary, however. Cohen’s empire is very strong, and they must collapse the metaphorical wall. Whilst it doesn’t make the audience think, it is an extremely entertaining and usually enthralling experience, nonetheless.

It is sort-of unrealistic at times, to a point where I had to remind myself this is a gangster film and not an episode of The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show where Wile E. Coyote tries to catch that pesky Roadrunner. This time Wile (multiplied by six) being the protagonist(s) and Roadrunner (Cohen) being the antagonist. It’s a fight of power between the two, in the great, stylized city of Los Angeles. However, only had to remind myself of this once or twice. Speaking of the style, this film very much expresses the glamour present in late 1940s L.A., where everyone danced, showed skin and had extravagent dresses for the ladies (and cross-dressers, I guess) and suave suits for the men. It is also highlighted by the people’s slang, and the usually funny humour that incorporates itself into the screenplay. When the jokes did show up, though, I had to question if it was intentional or unintentional. The attempt at juggling both a serious crime drama and a fun sort-of spoof is rarely a good end product.

This isn’t as great as everyone thought it would be, but it is fairly satisfying. However, as far as true stories go, it isn’t anything special to bite on. One must work with what they get, right?

In a nutshell: Gangster Squad is a violent, extremely entertaining gangster film that promises action and beauty, and it delivers. While this doesn’t challenge intellectually, it’s fun but is sometimes as unrealistic as a Looney Tunes cartoon. It isn’t amazing or extremely memorable, but it’s decent enough and I can forgive and forget Ruben Fleischer for his former sin of 30 Minutes or Less. Oh, and Emma, next time show more skin (please) because your legs and back just aren’t enough.

63/100

Ted (2012)

Ted

Release Date: June 29, 2012

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane (Voice)

Runtime: 106 min

Seth MacFarlane hits the big screen with Ted, and it’s actually rather good.

The film opens in a small Boston town on Christmas Eve 1985, where John Bennett is having a rather difficult time making friends. On Christmas morning, he receives a teddy bear, which he grows highly attached to. He makes a wish that Ted would come to life, and voila! he does.

Then the film skips to when John is thirty-five years old, living with his girlfriend of four years, Lori, and still his thunder buddy, Ted.  The film is about John, Ted and Lori’s relationship – and Lori is starting to get really fed up with Ted, and he has to try to receive a taste of the real world.

The movie actually has many laughs. It’s definitely funnier than you might think a buddy movie could ever be about an immature grown man’s relationship with his real life teddy bear, which consists of much pot smoking and movie watching.

When there are laughs, they’re really big; granted, the film does have some dull areas, as it suffers from maintaining comedic momentum throughout the entire feature (the most laughs are at the beginning and near the end). The factor of MacFarlane’s comfort zone being a 22-minute slot (as he created Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show) should definitely be considered as a factor for the lack of momentum. The film also suffers from having numerous antagonists, but I can look over that.

The film is actually quite the fun ride, has great quotes, laughs, pop culture references, a great voice-over narration (by the British voice styling of Patrick Stewart at the beginning and end of the film), and even when it is at its dull areas of the feature, it isn’t completely boring.

It also stars Joel McHale as Rex (who is just painfully unfunny) Lori’s horny boss, Giovanni Ribisi as the crazed Donny, and Patrick Warburton as the drunken co-worker, Guy.

The character of Ted is actually really funny and intriguing, the on-screen chemistry is grand, and it’s a comedy that should be cherished – as it is one of the funniest films of 2012 thus far.

88/100