Monday, January 14, 2013
Mag Seven Minus One: Gangster Squad
With Josh Brolin as Sergeant John O’Mara, the solid family-man/ honest L.A. cop turned Eliot Ness crusader; Ryan Gosling, channeling Steve McQueen and a young Mickey Rourke, and generating some of his own cool to play O'Mara's right-hand man; Emma Stone embodying every gangster femme fatale to hit the screen, and doing a good job of it; and Sean Penn hamming it up quite convincingly as the despicable mob boss Mickey Cohen, the stylized, fast-paced Gangster Squad mixes elements of The Magnificent Seven with heavy doses of The Untouchables; alludes to the tone of Sunset Boulevard and frames one of its iconic images; hints at the Odessa Steps from Battleship Potemkin; employs the Thompson machine gun, a pervading Hollywood movie fetish, in the grandaddy of all Thompson machine gun battles; and stages every gangster film cliché in the book against a sumptuously classic 1940s L.A. mise-en-scène. The best thing about the release of this film is that I don’t have to watch the brash, squally preview for what would have literally been the twenty-fifth time. Still, as a movie, Gangster Squad is a lot of stylishly silly fun.