Gangster movies are great. The classics from the old days are tons of fun and modern updates just seem to get better and better even if they are few and far between. Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables really gave the genre new life and Michael Mann’s Public Enemies from a couple years ago really solidified it all for me. Ruben Fleisher may not be a household name but the films he has directed so far are recognizable enough. His breakout hit Zombieland in 2009 helped make the zombie genre explode in popularity and his follow up 30 Minutes or Less was a funny if odd heist comedy that did okay. Now Gangster Squad bombed at the box office and I couldn’t really figure out why as the trailers looked pretty damn good. Just bad timing I guess because Gangster Squad if freaking awesome and on top of it all, it’s based on a true story.
In 1940s Los Angeles, the streets are ruled by gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). Cohen is a maniac with delusions of grandeur and a plan to take over the entire West Coast. Everyone is in his pocket and no one will testify against him. He’s bulletproof. But Seargent John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) is tired of it. When Police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) gives O’Mara permission to put together a team that can break all the rules to take Cohen down, O’Mara accepts with a vengeance. Now armed with anonymity and brute force, the war for Los Angeles is on and neither O’Mara nor Cohen will give in easily.
Here’s the thing about Gangster Squad. Even though it is based on a true story, this is not a film to be taken seriously. This is a 1980s style action epic set in the 1940s. This is Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hrs., Death Wish, Lethal Weapon and Delta Force. That is Gangster Squad’s mentality and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make for one hell of a fun action movie. Everyone in this is fantastic with Brolin, Penn, Gosling and Robert Patrick really standing out. Everyone is having a blast and you can see it on screen. And the action. Oh man, the action is great and furiously fun. This is one of the most entertaining films of the past year if taken for pure enjoyment value. I really think it would have done better if it had come out as a summer action flick instead of a January slate filler. Oh well, that is what Blu-ray is for, get out there and check out Gangster Squad now.
The Blu-ray is a perfect example of a great studio transfer. Rich warm colors, great clarity and detail and an immersive and effect filled surround track all make for a true popcorn blockbuster experience. Do yourself a favor amidst all the dourness of the news lately and pop in Gangster Squad. Just don’t forget the popcorn.
Available April 23, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.