Gangster Squad (2013)

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Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

In this period gangster thriller we are sent back to 1949 post WW2. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) returns from war and back to sunny Los Angeles where things have changed drastically. Mickey Cohen is a power hungry gangster who is willing to do anything in order to grow his empire. His ambitions to own the whole of the west coast drives him to countless murders in what he calls “progress”. Before it’s too late Cheif Bill Parker (Nick Holte) contacts O’Mara and urges him to get a team together later known as “The Gangster Squad”. They’re mission is to take down all of Mickey Cohen’s crime operations before they grow too big to take down.

I expected this film to be loaded with plot twists, character development and periodical references. I suppose I thought it would be challenging LA Confidential or any other good period gangster films. Instead it lacked in all those areas and wasn’t as serious as I thought it would be. This was a good and bad thing because it ticked all the boxes that I like in a fun cop film but with a cast that it boasted and the performances it had; the lack of substance was unsatisfying.The plot is simple which didn’t really leave much room for an explosive film, which was disappointing especially when you have such an intense character like Mickey Cohen as the villain. That being said once you realize what direction the film is going, then you can sit back and enjoy it. As soon as I heard the music during the opening scene with Josh Brolin, I could tell it was going to be more fun than dramatic.

There’s enough action to keep the average film viewer satisfied but on the second viewing you realize it’s not as thrilling as it could have been. The shootout’s are loud but there isn’t much to them making them seem generic. Maybe I’m being overly fussy but I felt there was a missed opportunity in that aspect of Gangster Squad. Nevertheless they were still fun to watch.

The cast is amazing, I mean two of my favourite actors on screen… banging… again. So it was always going to be hard to hate this film when Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are acting together. Luckily they put in some pretty good performances. A lot of people didn’t really like Goslings high pitched, slightly odd accent and I think the director must have caught on to it because it gradually subsided as the film progressed. I didn’t mind it to be honest, it gave his character more of an identity. The rest of the cast were incredibly solid, it was the second time I’ve seen Josh Brolin play a lead role and he nailed it. Now I wish he was the new batman. Sean Penn as always is amazing as the power hungry Mickey Cohen, if there was more to the script, giving him more of a dynamic than just a short tempered gangster with a tolerance to killing then he would easily be one of the most menacing villains of 2013.

Gangster Squad really is style over substance. It’s glossy and pristine, despite it being shot in dark surroundings for most of it, you can catch the colours of neon signs and red lipstick very clearly. It’s definitely nice to look at, which is one of the main positives of this film, it captures that time period pretty well in a unique fashion.

Despite some disappointment over Gangster Squad, I actually quite enjoyed it. It seemed like the perfect film for me, I like gangsters, I like snappy one liners and I like shootouts. Was the film perfectly executed? No, but it’s fun and entertaining enough to watch til the O’Mara-Cohen showdown.

End of Watch (2012)

End-of-Watch_05Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

The film follows the journey of two LA police officers to fame. Officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Pena) are loyal partners who continue to impress their peers and superiors after making high status arrests and rescues. Eventually their motivation and high ambition put them on the radar of a massive drug cartel who aren’t massive fans of their hero antics having prevented them a lot of money. The story doesn’t just explore the gangster culture of LA and the dangers of police officers, but it explores brotherhood, loyalty and the heartache of their loved ones.

End of Watch offers so much, it has action, style, interesting characts, drama, it’s an all round great film that uses the found footage style appropriately. The action is extremely realistic which means it isn’t just relentless gun fights but it captures the heart thumping tension of making an arrest, really showing the unpredictability of thugs. This really aids the intentions of the film, which is to expose the reality of police officer life, which is why you get to also see the boring side of the job; paperwork. The two main characters are awesome, they are extremely likeable and they share a bond that you wont see in many films. The chemistry they share is so real that you root for these characters without thinking about it, and it makes you even more worried about each hostile encounter they face. This is thoroughly due to the great performances by Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal, who keep growing on me, especially Pena who really show’s his full acting abilities. There are also some really enjoyable appearances from Anna Kendrick and America Ferrera, despite smaller roles, put in good performances.

The plot is quite simple, two cops ambition and initiative make them famous in the best and worst of ways. It literally follows them through their high status arrests until they are wanted by a massive drug cartel. I really like the way they went about filming this, using the found footage style as well as normal filming. It really helps make the film that much more realistic and puts you in the shoes of the police officers. Since everyone is familiar with the cops series and cop video’s on youtube where they film themselves from inside the car, everyone can relate and are already aware of what a cop video looks like. It makes the film a lot more gripping and grittier.

Overall awesome film with a lot of emotion, tension and grit. Definitely in the list of the greatest cop films around. You will also see a man with some real talent with the word “fuck” I wonder what his audition was like…