Tweets indicate that last Friday night a research screening of Ruben Fleischer‘s The Gangster Squad (Warner Bros., 10.19) happened at Mann’s Glendale Marketplace 4. Soon after an IMDB poster named josephford876 posted a review.
I’ve no way of knowing if this guy actually saw Gangster Squad or not, but he writes like a legitimate Regular Joe with repetitions and failure to link actors to character names and whatnot. I’ve been suspicious all along that Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less) is out of his depth on Gangster Squad, and that at the very least he lacks the kind of Michael Mann– or Curtis Hanson-level chops to pull off this kind of period-piece gangster melodrama. So at the very least Ford’s review, however legit or illegit, reenforces this prejudice.
“I was honestly underwhelmed,” Ford began. “It’s a very, very stylized film and its aesthetics reminded me of Sin City and Watchmen. The film uses a lot of slow motion, a lot of which takes away from the film. It’s very action-packed and the first half hour is excessive violence. In short, it’s style over substance.
“I was worried that the film would be out of the range of the director based on his previous works, and that belief was reaffirmed in the first act of the film. This isn’t a conventional, atmospheric and stylish LA noir. It’s only stylish in the sense that there’s a lot of slow motion and constant, jarring flashbacks, but it’s not what I expected from a drama piece [set] in the 1940s.
“The film is also more comedic than I expected, and the comedic undertones take away from the film itself. The audience was cheering and clapping all the time, and it’s the kind of film that is definitely entertaining but nothing special. It’s very straightforward, very predictable, and obviously an enjoyable experience, but I really expected something serious like L.A. Confidential.
“This isn’t that kind of film — even people around me and with me that enjoyed the film said this was more like Sin City and Watchmen because of its excessive slow motion.
“I don’t want to bash the film. This obviously didn’t work for me, because I expected something a little more serious, but this was way too stylized and in some ways, a film that didn’t take itself seriously.
“The film revolves around Josh Brolin‘s character, so he and Sean Penn are the leads. Ryan Gosling is given significant weight too, so he’s up there as well. The others are part of Josh Brolin’s assembled ‘Gangster Squad.’ The characters are also caricatures, really nothing special.
“Penn, however, was great, and even though he was playing a caricature himself, he was very enjoyable as a mobster. There were several lines that reminded me of the brashness of some great screen gangsters. I love Gosling — Drive is my kind of film so maybe that’s some indication why this was a little excessive for me — but even his character felt like an extension from his previous performance in Drive.
“These two characters were the only ones that stood out for me.
“The film looked complete for the most part, although there were some CGI things that needed fixing. It’s also funny because as a temp track they used music from Inception and The Dark Knight, which obviously will be taken out as the film gets scored, but that was interesting in and of itself.”