Film review: Gangster Squad

posted at 9:31 am on January 13, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Last year, I resolved to see a new film each week and write a review, but a back injury and the election got in the way of that effort.  This year, I’m off to a fresh start … even if Hollywood isn’t.  Gangster Squad offers a collection of clichés and wooden performances that ends up providing no real tension or surprises, even with a talented cast on hand.

Gangster Squad purports to be “inspired by a true story” about legendary gangster Mickey Cohen, and it’s certainly true that Mickey Cohen was an actual gangster.  It’s also true that Mickey Cohen lived in Los Angeles. There was an actual Gangster Squad in the LAPD, as the LA Times’ Paul Lieberman reported in 2008, and which was undeniably the inspiration behind James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential. After that, you’re on your own, historically speaking. The film starts off with a psychopathic bit of violence from the ersatz version of Cohen (Sean Penn), along with a ludicrous damsel-in-distress rescue by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), and it only gets more ridiculous from there.  LAPD Chief William Parker (Nick Nolte) commissions O’Mara to form a Gangster Squad to wreck Cohen’s crime empire, telling him to go to war rather than enforce the law.  O’Mara collects a small team of oddballs to take Cohen down, assisted by O’Mara’s pregnant wife Connie (Mirielle Enos).

If this sounds familiar, well, it should.  Gangster Squad borrows from The Untouchables in the same way that Cohen “borrowed” from his victims.  We get the old and forgotten veteran (an almost unrecognizable Robert Patrick), the rookie Latino (Michael Peña), and the Charles Martin Smith-esque geek in Giovanni Ribisi, along with a couple of additions in Anthony Mackie and Ryan Gosling as the jaded, cynical, almost-but-not-quite corrupt cop whose inner honor will win the day.  Oh, by the way, Gosling’s Sgt. Jerry Wooters is sleeping with Mickey Cohen’s girlfriend Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), in only the first of a series of laughable plot twists.

What makes Gangster Squad so remarkably unremarkable is the utter lack of any moral tension.  No one seems to have much trouble with the idea of turning a half-dozen policemen into Murder and Mayhem Incorporated.  The entire amount of time spent by the protagonists on this question is less than one minute of screen time, which went something like this:

RIBISI: I’m having qualms about becoming just like Cohen and his guys.

BROLIN: We’re nothing like Cohen and his guys.

RIBISI: Thanks, I feel much better now.

Even the cast can’t redeem this film.  Brolin walks through the picture with his jaw squarely set, glowering all the way.  Penn certainly provides malevolence in his depiction of Cohen as a psychopathic loose cannon, but not much else.  Gosling and Stone do a little better, but the arc of their romance is rushed and hardly believable. Everyone else is wasted on screen, including the rest of the Squad, who provide little else than archetypes and bullets.  The end features a voice-over epilogue that reminds everyone just how contrived this mess was for the previous 110 minutes, after a Lethal Weapon-esque final fistfight between the main protagonist and antagonist.

Contrast this with The Untouchables, which I think is overrated but at least addressed the moral issue of crossing the line between law enforcement and thuggery.  For that matter, skip The Untouchables and watch the infinitely superior L.A. Confidential , which dealt with the same issues in nearly the same time and place — but put the thugs in the right moral position, and managed to get the Cohen story more accurately than this movie did even as a subplot.  The result of this moral abdication is a series of violent battles in which we are supposed to root for law enforcement to act like a rival gang, a series in which bullets get sprayed all over the screen without even a stylish, original depiction (as in The Untouchables) as some sort of compensation.

And let’s talk about that violence, especially with Hollywood busily lecturing us about gun control these days — including, hilariously, a few of these cast members.  This film does nothing but glorify violence, not just as stylish entertainment but also as the answer to crime and social problems.  It’s an almost-unending series of bullet eruptions that numbs much more than it excites. It’s not just this film either; the trailers featured a nearly continuous stream of upcoming films that sells gun violence as entertainment.  The only two films out of eight that didn’t try to sell themselves as bullet-fests were The Call, a thriller with Halle Berry about a serial killer, and 42, the long-awaited Jackie Robinson biopic with Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford.  None of the others demonstrated any particular wit or originality, and will probably make Gangster Squad look like an Oscar contender in comparison.

Filmmakers, heal thyselves.

Gangster Squad is rated R for violence, strong language, and, er … violence.  It’s not appropriate for children of any age, and I’d argue not really appropriate for anyone else, either.

Update: R. S.McCain explains why noir works, and why this doesn’t:

The classic film noir set-up requires a flawed protagonist who finds himself trapped in a situation where right and wrong are not clear, where sinister individuals are trying to deceive him, and he must rely on his wits to survive. Also, there is usually a dame involved in the problem. …

Film noir is never just a shoot-’em-up. The danger of violence – a sense of menace — is very real in film noir, but the movie is not about violence.


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Comment pages: 1 2

More proof that those in the Hollywood movie industry suffer from mass mental illness.

Zorro on January 13, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Ed, watching ANY movie with Sean Penn in it and giving it any kind of promotion just put you on the bottom of my “most admired list”……shame on you.

tencole on January 13, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

There is simply no way I’d spend my hard earned money on anything that has Sean Penn in it..

galtg on January 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

This.

Yakko77 on January 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

When was the last time anyone in Hollywood had an original thought? Anybody???

(crickets……and more crickets)

Yeah….that’s what I thought.

Lew on January 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

senseless violence and gratuitious sex.

My kind of movie!

gerrym51 on January 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

“L.A. Confidential” was a fabulous FILM. Sadly, too few are made these days.
(I still watch it once or twice per year)

As for any movie with Sean ‘Chugo’ Penn, the boat-sinker, I won’t spend a dime.
Producers and directors these days have lost the sense of balance and reality that Sam Peckinpaw introduced – the reality of violence without it being gratuitous. It seems as though almost no one has an original thought these days.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

I wouldn’t see any movie with Penn in it even if it’s on a network and I can watch for free. His politics aside, I don’t watch films featuring a known wife-beater. Given Hollywood’s ‘disdain’ for abuse and bullying, Penn should be persona non grata in their circle.

Liam on January 13, 2013 at 9:50 AM

I wouldn’t stop to give any of those actors a bottle of water if they were dying of thirst, why would I spend my time watching them pretend they’re doing anything productive.

Flange on January 13, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Even the title was phoned in. “Gangster Squad”? Way to think through a catchy title, guys.

JeffWeimer on January 13, 2013 at 9:51 AM

More proof that those in the Hollywood movie industry suffer from mass mental illness.

Zorro on January 13, 2013 at 9:34 AM

It’s difficult to label them. I suspect that it stems from an arrogance demonstrated by movie-makers that the sheeple will pay to see movies like this, with second-rate actors, that glorifies violence. Hell, most people don’t even know history so that won’t keep them away.
BUT … “It’s Chinatown, Jake”.
*sigh*
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Sounds to me like the message of this tawdry little epic is painfully obvious: The solution to our problems is to remove the chains from heavily armed government.
If they were free to behave like the animals we fear, we’d be able to put them back in their cage when the wet work was done, and no one would ever react to the precedent. Battle over…no harm done…move along please.
At that point we will be asking ourselves what the difference is between government and a well dressed lynch mob.

Lew on January 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

This.

Yakko77 on January 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

^

LaughterJones on January 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I wouldn’t have seen this pile of sh!t even if I was the last person on Earth. Can’t stand several of the annoying elitists in this movie.

gsherin on January 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I resolved to see a new film each week…

Problem with that is most weeks the new films suck. Badly.

William Teach on January 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

I’d rather watch Monster Squad.

And Gosling has got to be one of the least interesting actors around today. Glad he’s not in any films I actually like.

Dongemaharu on January 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

It’s not appropriate for children of any age, and I’d argue not really appropriate for anyone else, either.

Zinger.

CorporatePiggy on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

LA Confidential was a great movie. Whatever happened to Kim Basinger? Haven’t seen her in anything since.

scalleywag on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

I AM SICK of seeing these commercials!!!

I would not walk across the street to even speak (real action self-deleted) to Chavez kiss-up Sean Penn…..HURL!!!

PappyD61 on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

At that point we will be asking ourselves what the difference is between government and a well dressed lynch mob.

Lew on January 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

In the mid Nineties, I was protesting the local courthouse in Tacoma with a sign that said “The difference between judges and Crips is that one gang wears robes.”

platypus on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Problem with that is most weeks the new films suck. Badly.

William Teach on January 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

No kidding. You’d have to suffer through a lot of bad before you’d come across something you could recommend.

scalleywag on January 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Oh, by the way, Gosling’s Sgt. Jerry Wooters is sleeping with Mickey Cohen’s girlfriend Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), in only the first of a series of laughable plot twists.

Yeah, as laughable as the idea of a sitting president boinking Sam Giancana’s girlfriend.

Blake on January 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

I tend to disagree with tencole and dreft.

Sean Penn gave two solid performances early on in his career.

The first was opposite Tim Hutton in ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’. Where Hutton gives NSA sattelite intel to the Russians. Via their embassy in Mexico and Penn’s desire and need for cocaine.

The second was as Al Pacino’s crooked, gangster lawyer in ‘Carlito’s Way’.

I contend that these performances were memorable and above par. Due to the inability to recognize Sean Penn.

In ‘Gangster Squad’, Penn more resembles a cross between William Forsythe’s “Flattop” and W.G. Armstrong’s “Pruneface” from ‘Dick Tracy’, way back in 1990.

The film doesn’t even sound worthy of a rental or HBO. Which is sad, I’m still a fan of Nick Nolte.

Jack Deth on January 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Penn certainly provides malevolence in his depiction of Cohen as a psychopathic loose cannon…

Penn is playing a malevolent, psychopathic loose cannon? How’s is that acting? Sounds more like art imitating real life.

Thomas More on January 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Sean Penn portrayed Saint Harvey of Milk therefore he has achieved permanent employment status in Hollywood.

As has James Franco, Jake Gylenhall, Ewan McGregor and that Harry Potter kid for having sex with a horse on stage.

The greater the perversion…….the greater the adoration in Glamourtown.

PappyD61 on January 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Thomas More on January 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

ZING! Exactly.

scalleywag on January 13, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Saw this one. Wasn’t impressed. Penn’s his usual method actor-y self, which is to say that his shtick long ago became trite and boring. Perhaps we’ll be making 3-D printers that can crank out actors and actresses as we’d prefer them to be? That’d be cool.

This movie isn’t even a pale, wan homage to “L.A. Confidential,” which should have won Best Picture over “Titanic” in ’97. Also, it rips off (I guess in Hollywood, to paraphrase the immortal Sid Hudgens in “Confidential”; “…what worked for “Confidential works for…”) 1996′s “Mulholland Falls” for much of its premise about the famous L.A. police squad of hardnoses that worked to keep Los Angeles an “open city” not dominated by any one crime family or organization (forget trying to keep it organized crime-free, which even the cop bad asses of the day knew they’d be unable to pull off).

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the idea that, sometimes, you gotta “violence” some people if you want to keep the general order. But most of those mulling over the need to do violence in a coordinated fashion (for the greater good, mind you…heh) usually spend much more time in cogitating about being prepared to violence folks seriously in need of it than we saw in this product. Most likely, to keep the film running along, the time spent in exposition on this point was left on the cutting room floor? Or maybe not. Who can tell, though, because the film’s too messy to sort out from that perspective.

“Mulholland Falls” was also a superior product when compared to “Gangster Squad.” If this one was trying for a film noir feel it tried so deliberately hard to create it that it ended up failing at it. Philip Marlowe this one isn’t. Too bad, so sad.

Aeschylus1 on January 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

See anyone from that awesome “Demand a plan” video? :)

ThePrez on January 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I make it a very special point to not waste my theater going money on any movie that has Sean Penn in it! That assclown could be in the next Star Wars film wielding a lightsaber and I would still not give the film the time of day!

pilamaye on January 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

We are fortunate to live in a society in which you’re allowed to run your mouth.

However, we are also fortunate to live in a society where we can make rational choices based on others running their mouth.

I decided long ago not to see any more Sean Penn movies, even if they interest me. This is one of those.

Red Cloud on January 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

yeah but Ryan Gosling is way hot…

I hope he does the dirty dancing scene with Emma Stone again

Slade73 on January 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

I tend to disagree with tencole and dreft.
Sean Penn gave two solid performances early on in his career.
Jack Deth on January 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

And Adolph Hitler was a hell of a house painter.

The third “solid performance” of Penn’s career was that of a real life traitor to his country, Marxist dictator apologist and all around a$$hole.

There are reasons why our nation’s citizens are having trouble telling right from wrong and you can add a few links to the chains that Sean Penn (*spit*) forged in life for his efforts on behalf of evil.

Screw him.

turfmann on January 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

I resolved to see a new film each week..

Bless you. I limit myself to one theater visit a year, but haven’t even been since seeing Star Trek in 2009. There hasn’t been anything interesting enough that I can’t wait until it is on demand on cable.

Brat on January 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM

All politics aside, what kind of idiot thinks Sean Penn is an actor at all, let alone a good one?

Sure, he has that creepy, shaky, meth-head borderline-sociopath vibe going on. But when a person does that ALL THE TIME, guess what? It’s not an act.

logis on January 13, 2013 at 10:19 AM

There hasn’t been anything interesting enough that I can’t wait until it is on demand on cable.

Brat on January 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM

definitely don’t see Jack Reacher

Slade73 on January 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM

even on cable

Slade73 on January 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I read the book last year around the time the movie was supposed to be coming out (delayed by the Aurora tragedy). It was really very interesting, although there’s less violence in the book than in the movie’s trailer.

grahampowell on January 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Bless you. I limit myself to one theater visit a year, but haven’t even been since seeing Star Trek in 2009. There hasn’t been anything interesting enough that I can’t wait until it is on demand on cable.

Brat on January 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM

I wait until a movie is on DVD, then wait a little longer to buy it used at half-price or cheaper. That way, none of my money goes to Hollywood.

Liam on January 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Yeah…*sigh*..

I actually watched Bull Durham last night…Sarandon and Robbins…

…I had a few cocktails in me.

BigWyo on January 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Giovanni Ribisi and Ryan Gosling…

*sigh*

Sadly, going to miss these two interesting actors in this film. The boycott of Sean Penn movies continues… I’ll just pretend I saw LA Confidential again, a brutal but interesting movie.

Fallon on January 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM

This film was the liberal college student’s idea of what classic ’40s and ’50s gangster-cop movies are about. It missed that mark wildly, though. Maybe this is what you get when you try to deliver a film noir gangster-cop movie to kids raised on “Grand Theft Auto” and “Mafia Wars” on Facebook? I’m reaching here, I admit. I’m also willing to cut the younger actors, up to Josh Brolin (who’s no spring chicken anymore…), some slack because what they know about that era, or about the real world, amounts to bupkis (stealing from Sid Hudgens again ;-) but Nick Nolte should have known better than to involve himself in this mess. Of course, too many psychedelic drugs have left their mark on the guy, so maybe that explains it.

Aeschylus1 on January 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM

There are reasons why our nation’s citizens are having trouble telling right from wrong and you can add a few links to the chains that Sean Penn (*spit*) forged in life for his efforts on behalf of evil.

Screw him.

turfmann on January 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Wish I had said that.

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Film review: Gangster Squad

…Sean Penn?
…it’s not about JugEars and HIS Boys?

KOOLAID2 on January 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Oh, by the way, Gosling’s Sgt. Jerry Wooters is sleeping with Mickey Cohen’s girlfriend Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), in only the first of a series of laughable plot twists.

Yeah, as laughable as the idea of a sitting president boinking Sam Giancana’s girlfriend.

Blake on January 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

BINGO!
Move along. Nothing to see here but a Bobby Kennedyesque cover up of the “indiscretions” of his brother, and, ummmmmmmmmm his own philandering. At least Monica the Harmonica escaped the same fate as Norma Jean.
It must be nice to have an AG who is as corrupt as the POTUS who anointed him.
Oh Wait … It’s like “Déjà vu all over again”.
Never Mind
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Only Sean Penn film worth seeing is the last 10 minutes of “All The King’s Men”.

The SOB gets shot to pieces at the end!

pilamaye on January 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM

definitely don’t see Jack Reacher

Slade73 on January 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Thanks for the advice. Not a Tommy Maypother fan anyway. Haven’t read the books, but from what I hear, there were other actors who would have been better than Cruise. That guy that was in Dexter this season, for example. Ray Stevenson.

Brat on January 13, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Wish I had said that.

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Me too.

I cribbed that from Dickens.

turfmann on January 13, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I have a difficult time working myself up to see any movie starring an actor or actress who has become vocal in politics or social activisim. Something about being unable to suspend my beliefs and immerse myself in the moment. All I can think about is what the actor/actress may have said in the real world. They want me to believe they are the character on the screen/stage but that ain’t happening when they’re plastered all over the real world as themselves. Doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with them either.

joated on January 13, 2013 at 10:36 AM

LA Confidential was a great movie. Whatever happened to Kim Basinger? Haven’t seen her in anything since.

scalleywag on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

I was wondering that too. She must have admitted she was a conservative or something. Seems to be an automatic career killer in Socialst Freak Hollyweird Land.

Of course that would explain her leaving that fat blob of shit Alec whatshislard ass!

cableguy615 on January 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Problem with that is most weeks the new films suck. Badly.

William Teach on January 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Especially in January. That’s a tough New Year’s resolution, Ed!

22044 on January 13, 2013 at 10:41 AM

I wait until a movie is on DVD, then wait a little longer to buy it used at half-price or cheaper. That way, none of my money goes to Hollywood.

Liam on January 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM

We usually go to our local library , we are allowed to keep movies for a week(new releases – 3days). That way guaranteed they won’t get a penny from us “unwashed masses”! :D

cableguy615 on January 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM

I cribbed that from Dickens.

turfmann on January 13, 2013 at 10:34 AM

And therein lies the tail.

The Arts, in former times, informed, instructed, and provided a model of, at least, the ingredients for a proper social order, if not the things of a higher order. Today’s “Arts” provide nothing even remotely comparable.

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Bless you. I limit myself to one theater visit a year, but haven’t even been since seeing Star Trek in 2009. There hasn’t been anything interesting enough that I can’t wait until it is on demand on cable.

Brat on January 13, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Funny – that’s the last film I saw in a theater. I saw it with a friend.

22044 on January 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM

tale

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

So basically it’s a bunch of Hollywood buddies who LA Noire at a sleepover and said “Hey, it would be cool to dress up and play the game in real life!”

portlandon on January 13, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Say Ed,I don’t know if it caught your attention but there were like 3 long martial arts fights in the last Sherlock Holmes film. Especially in the case of remakes we have some idea of what someone else would do with the same material.

It seems that even a character known for intelligence in catching criminals is TOO BORING for the kiddies these days. Everything has to be a video game or they can’t watch it. Once you turn Sherlock Homes into a mixed Martial arts fighter you know they have only one recipe in the cookbook. Meanwhile the rest of us in the over 40 crowd can’t really be entertained by these thin characters and over-the-top fight scenes.

Conan on January 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

10 seconds into the preview, you know the whole movie. cartoon looking, wooden actors. not one inch of believabilty.

check out “kiss of death” starring richard widmark who plays a grinning killer. there’s a great scene where he pushes paul ryan off a cliff.

renalin on January 13, 2013 at 10:52 AM

In the vernacular; Shakespeare it ain’t.

Thanks for the warning, EM.

locomotivebreath1901 on January 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Of course that would explain her leaving that fat blob of shit Alec whatshislard ass!

cableguy615 on January 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM

No kidding, he’s right up there with Sean Penn.

scalleywag on January 13, 2013 at 10:59 AM

The newest disclaimer from H’wood is, No Children Were Harmed In The Making Of This Movie.
So much dramatic effect, so little time.

Kissmygrits on January 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Cha … “The Seven Percent Solution”. *chuckle*

The Arts, in former times, informed, instructed, and provided a model of, at least, the ingredients for a proper social order, if not the things of a higher order. Today’s “Arts” provide nothing even remotely comparable.

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM

IF “higher education” in this country made The Humanities, no matter the student’s major, mandatory this country might be much better educated. Instead we have at least 2 (3?) generations of dweebs who are singularly focused on immediate gratification with no knowledge or respect as to how we got here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1wg1DNHbNU

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Sean Penn, Josh Brolin?

F’ that.

M240H on January 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM

22044 on January 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM

And I think the new one “Star Trek Into Darkness” will pull me into the theater again. Release due this May.

Brat on January 13, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Only Sean Penn film worth seeing is the last 10 minutes of “All The King’s Men”
The SOB gets shot to pieces at the end!
pilamaye on January 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Is that how that movie ended? It was so unbelievably bad I couldn’t make it through to the end. Penn’s acting was terrible enough in itself but watching James Gandofini try to effect a Southeren accent and play a deep south good ole boy Bubba was so cringe-worthy that I couldn’t take it for another second. To me, Penn is the most over-rated actor in Hollywood. And that opinion isn’t just sour grapes because I hate his politics. There are pleny uber-liberal Hollywood actors whom I grudgingly admit are excellent actors.

tommyboy on January 13, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Ditto… Ditto… Ditto…

WhoU4 on January 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM

I resolve not to support any of the Hollywood crap…

d1carter on January 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM

I vote Sean Penn be in an upcoming episode of “The Walking Dead”…….as that episode’s Blue Plate Special!

pilamaye on January 13, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Is that how that movie ended? It was so unbelievably bad I couldn’t make it through to the end. Penn’s acting was terrible enough in itself …

tommyboy on January 13, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Which is what makes the final couple of minutes when Penn gets blasted clear into next Tuesday all the better to watch.

pilamaye on January 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Karl Magnus on January 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Read this:

http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Sean Penn…….No watch.

derft on January 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Yep. ‘Nuff said.

woodNfish on January 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM

No, he gets the crab beaten out of him, by Josh Brolin, his gang, gets carved up by bullets so, and he gets sent to prison for life,
based on Emma Stone’s character. Now I would suggest that LA Confidential, was Curtis Hanson’s revenge, for what happened to his parents during the ‘Blacklist’ James Cromwell being the real villain of the piece, who sets the bloody tableau in motion,

narciso on January 13, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Sorry Hollywood, but if Sean Penn is “in” then I’m “out”…

Khun Joe on January 13, 2013 at 11:40 AM

definitely don’t see Jack Reacher

Slade73 on January 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I was enjoying the Jack Reacher books until the one where the villains were conservative Christians.

That’s a familiar pattern with several writers, unfortunately.

PortlandJon on January 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Hoping Ed goes to see Les Mis next.

mythicknight on January 13, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Child, is a former writer for Panorama, the more left wing BBC affiliate.

narciso on January 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Funny how Hollywood can almost ban smoking from movies, it can ban racial stereotypes, it can ban Islamic terrorists, it can ban armed civilians as good guys, it can eliminate almost all suggestion of America as a force of good in this world, but it can’t seem to reduce senseless gun violence by one little bit.

The problem is that violence is easy to do, any high-school student can come up with a gory, murder-filled “plot” since it’s more about choreography than anything else. A real story takes imagination, and it takes skill to tell it well, things Hollywood is running short of. These days if it weren’t for remakes of movies, comic book visualizations and senseless violence, Hollywood’s production would be almost nil.

Socratease on January 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Last four movies I saw:

The Intouchables
The Impossible
Silver Linings Playbook
Django Unchained

Enjoyed them all….favorite was the Intouchables

Ditkaca on January 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Totally horrible. The music alone made me want to throw my computer against the wall.

echosyst on January 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Totally horrible. The music alone made me want to throw my computer against the wall.

echosyst on January 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I heard that was the universal reaction to anyone who watched the preview for “The Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure”.

Word is the CIA is looking into using that film as a new Gitmo interrogation tool.

pilamaye on January 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Read this:

http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html

Cleombrotus on January 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Thanks for the link to an essay that is even more relevant today than when written.
It’s a keeper.
Those of us who spent years in Catholic School and daily attendance at the Tridentine Mass, it is like a trip down memory lane when an all-encompassing education meant something. Sure, I now “specialize”, but not until the foundation was first laid and I chose to build upon it. It still serves me well.
Thanks.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM

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Solaratov on January 13, 2013 at 12:28 PM

When was the last time anyone in Hollywood had an original thought? Anybody???
(crickets……and more crickets)
Yeah….that’s what I thought.
Lew on January 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Considering that there was a radio show in the ’40s called “Gang Busters” with the same theme maybe original thought predates Hollywood? (and radio)

oldernwiser on January 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Well he was the Villain, I know he is playing him, as a predatory capitalist, but his savagery is made plain, whereas even the most extreme reactions by the squad, is justified, by the circumstances.

narciso on January 13, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Hollywood just keeps plodding along, stumbling from one hackneyed formula to the next. They keep billboarding the same villains opposed by the same heroes and showboating the same sanctimonious angst, year after year after year.
And then they have the unmitigated gall to throw a huge gala to award each other prizes for parading this garbage in front of us, wrapped in new ribbons and painted in new colors, and heralding it as “creative and new”. And this is what passes for American Art?
Well isn’t that just the most precious thing??

Lew on January 13, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Penn was probably off his game… In mourning for Hugo and all.

2Tru2Tru on January 13, 2013 at 2:17 PM

There is one thing that this film makes clear. The ‘gangsters’ of yesteryear had it all over modern day ‘gangstas’.

I’m sure the mafioso still wear silk suits and drive nice cars, but the ‘gangsta’ types look more like circus clowns in their baggy hip hop styled clothing ( something that’s been passe, stylistically, for at least a decade or more) and excessive jewelry, makeup and hairstyles.

They say all things run their course. Apparently this, too, is one of the many messages and life lessons that the ‘gansta culture’ has failed to grasp.

I doubt film makers fifty years on will still be making films about the ‘gangsta’s’, since there is nothing intriguing or stylish about murderous thugs in clown attire.

thatsafactjack on January 13, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Someone watches Penn so I never have to?

I’d just a soon prefer that no one ever watches him so he’d just disappear, preferably from a painful butt cancer like his buddy Chavez.

AH_C on January 13, 2013 at 2:31 PM

What WAS the last decent mobster flick? Donnie Brasco?

tommyboy on January 13, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Nice review Ed. Traditionally, January and February are dead periods for new movie releases. Studios use this time of the year to release bad movies and it looks like you found one in Gangster Squad.

Captain Kirock on January 13, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Sean Penn — present/recent day — if he’s in it the movie already sucks.

Ryan Gosling — any/every day — if he’s in it the movie already sucks.

Two righteous strikes already right off the bat.

Third strike — Sean Penn’s in it. Period. You’re out.

Will never be watched in this house.

Definitely will never be watched outside of this house if it requires investment of even one red cent to do so.

SD Tom on January 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM

turfmann said:

And Adolph Hitler was a hell of a house painter.

The third “solid performance” of Penn’s career was that of a real life traitor to his country, Marxist dictator apologist and all around a$$hole.

There are reasons why our nation’s citizens are having trouble telling right from wrong and you can add a few links to the chains that Sean Penn (*spit*) forged in life for his efforts on behalf of evil.

Screw him.

Calm down, Francis.

Jack Deth on January 13, 2013 at 3:09 PM

I was interested in this until I saw what a rehash it seemed to be of LA Confidential, which was an awesome if brutal movie. It oozed with moral conflict and flawed heroes. Good plot, great pacing and acting.

mrsknightley on January 13, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Anybody notice how we’re currently having to endure Grampa Schwarzenegger, Grampa Stallone and Grampa Willis, each in his own big action flick?

John the Libertarian on January 13, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Perhaps we’ll be making 3-D printers that can crank out actors and actresses as we’d prefer them to be? That’d be cool.

Aeschylus1 on January 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

I’ve been scanned in 3D. It’s pretty cool.

It was a demo for a scanner used by architects and engineers.
We sat in a conference room while the laser rotated on a tripod doing it’s thing. It even scanned the pictures on the wall and the plants
through the window outside. You then have a data cloud that you can create 3D images with. You can scan an entire city block in 3D in less than a day.

MichaelGabriel on January 13, 2013 at 3:40 PM

BTW, there’s software available that allows you to make 3D images with a laser pointer and your web cam.

MichaelGabriel on January 13, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Central to Film Noir is the search for some scrap of honor in a depraved world. It was popular at a time when people were trying to make some sense of the cataclysm that was WWII. Gratuitous violence and nihilistic amorality without the search for that scrap of honor misses the point of Noir.

fast richard on January 13, 2013 at 4:27 PM

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