I didn’t have much hope for this movie. It looked like it had too many trending darlings in it. For example, Ryan Gosling, the leftist college nerds actor of choice. It also requires that you suspend belief and entertain the idea that the Government/Institution isn’t the biggest mob around. But then, the violence started. In the first few minutes. A woman is about to be gang raped and Josh Brolin goes all Raging Bull and beat her assailants half to death before they get a chance to harm her. Actually, that occurs after a scene where former boxer Penn rips a man in half by tying him between two automobiles. Tone set. Antagonist – Murderous boxer gangster. Protagonist – WW2 veteran, slightly crazed. We’re going to war, says Brolin. And that’s exactly what this movie is, a war picture.
Penn is taking over L.A. Hegemony is close. Then… Nick fucking Nolte appears. NICK NOLTE. And when Nolte appears in a movie, you take notice. Nolte wants rid of Penn, so he sets up the Gangster Squad. Mostly WW2 Vets (This is 1949)… some of whom are still a little unhinged. It’s not long before they are joined by Robert Patrick, sporting possibly the manliest mustache ever seen on a homosapien. The crew set about using their skills to take Penn down. This is like the A-Team, only in the 1940’s with rivers of blood running down the sidewalk. Even that poser Gosling ups his game and executes a mobster in the middle of a street, even though the pissant is trying to give himself up. And y’know, this crew ain’t perfect. Which helps. They fuck up. A lot. Just when you think a cliche is incoming, nope. Yes, it’s a bit straight forward. But most of the high rated shit in Hollywood is anyway, just smothered with pretence. Gangster Squad isn’t.
The director of this movie really went to town on his actions sequences. Especially the shoot outs. The thing about them is… they’re unremarkable. But in a good way. Too many movies have hot-shit marksmen killing everything in sight without effort. Not here, when guys are under fire, it puts fucking pressure on them. Even WW2 fighters. They don’t always hit their target (Except for Robert Patrick). In short: The shoot outs in this movie are realistic – and when you combine that with the directors calm and steady eye, they’re damned near exceptional. Sometimes entering Heat territory. And each hit results in a bloodsquib, RoboCop style. You can almost smell the fucking cordite. I love a lot about this movie, the efficiency of it, the pacing. The to-the-point dialogue. Although maybe it was a bit short. And we should’ve seen more of Nolte. What fucking presence that guy has.
This is a man’s movie. The best of the year, so far at least. And who knows, maybe the US Government really did go after scum back in the 40’s. Maybe.
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