Gangster Squad Blu-Ray Review

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Gangster Squad available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download 4/23

The Movie: 7/10
A bunch of good guys pushing a bad guy out-of-town. That’s the tame version of a one sentence pitch. I’ll say it right up front, the whole of this movie didn’t do much for me. The parts of it though, that’s a different story. Scene by scene, performance by performance, it was pieced together to be entertaining enough. I kept getting distracted by the bigger picture, well, the movie.

What do I mean? That is a fair question. One piece of the whole is the performances, are the performances? Whatever. The quality of the cast is the best part of the movie.  There is not a weak gangster or off the books cop bent on defeating the gangsters in the bunch. Everyone is intense, if not a little bit hammy. It’s a movie that reflects a vibe very much of the times, those gangster movies from the 30’s and 40’s had more drama and play acting than convincing performances. If that was the goal here, they succeeded. Another piece of the whole, the look, the sets, the styling, is all fantastic. It’s a bit sharp and idealized, but its Hollywood in a Hollywood movie, so what can I expect. One more piece that gives this movie it’s “punch”, the special effects and stunts. It’s all big and brash and makes it an action bonanza.

Now, add that all together and it sounds like a done deal, quality here, there, and there….unfortunately that’s now how it works. The whole movie is not edited in a way that takes me on an interesting or satisfying journey. There are times when “This is going to happen and NOW THIS IS HAPPENING” without a lot of care or delicacy. Delicacy might not be the goal, so I understand, but it suffers. The intensity of Sean Penn’s performance is awesome, and yet, there is absolutely nothing about that character that makes me interested in his story. He can be the victor or the loser, it’s all the same to me. I don’t like him enough to want him to maybe, possibly get away with his horrible crimes. I don’t hate him enough to hope he meets a massive messy end. This is not because he doesn’t impress me, he’s mesmerizing. I have almost always been a Penn fan, and this time I was watching his every eye movement, every breath, every nod of his head. The issue I have is that when that’s added to the flow of the rest of the movie with some of the disjointed skipping around choices and consequences, it gets lost.

Gangster Squad looks great as a whole movie. Gangster Squad is great in parts. Gangster Squad is what it is, action, drama, men punching and shooting men, fantasizing about some hints of real life. Play acting cops and robbers does appeal to a certain kind of movie goer, and I am not that kind.


Features: 7/10

  • Commentary With Director Ruben Fleischer – A fairly bland commentary from Director Ruben Fleischer. One of the problems I have with this is he regularly pauses and says nothing for minutes at a time. Still he does fill in some of the back story and talks about the casting process at length.
  • The Gangland Files – A PIP mode similar to the Maximum Movie Mode Warner have done in the past. This one kinda compiles all the extras on the disc and gives them to you while you are watching the movie,
  • The Set Up (Focus Points) – Fifteen behind the scenes featurettes that cover the following topics. “The Real Story, Josh Brolin on O’Mara, One Continuous Long Shot, Fashion of the ’40s, “Ryan & Emma Reunited,” “Emma Stone on Grace, The Real Mickey Cohen, Ryan Gosling on Wooters, The Real Gangster Squad, The Real Locations, Nick Nolte on Chief Parker, Inside Slapsy Maxie’s, Ryan & Emma on the Set, Bringing Back Gangsters and Park Plaza.”
  • Rogues Gallery – Probably the best extra on the disc, this 46 minute documentary covers the real story of Mickey Cohen.
  • Tough Guys With Style – EPK style featurette which tackles the look of the 40s.
  • Deleted Scenes – Seven Deleted Scenes but unfortunately the cut cinema scene is nowhere to be found.
  • DVD & UV Digital Copy – 

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover is fine, but very just fine, OK, adequate. It’s got that flavor of movies from the 30’s and 40’s, but it’s too glossy for my taste. I would not have it as a poster.The menu is what it is, navigation with gangster fonts.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Gangster Squad’s 1080P AVC transfer looks terrific. The movie is full of Noir induced shadows and the transfer manages to show the detail through the shadowy murk of the 1940’s. Color and flesh-tones are great if a little dialed up at times. The scene in Slapsy Maxies for instance is an explosion of color and detail. Videophiles really have a special looking film here even of you don’t like the subject matter.

Warner’s DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 Track will fill your belly with lead and leave you for dead. The movie is full of gunfights and explosions which this track manages to get right in oh so many ways. Special mention should be made to the LFE channel which is alive in the majority of the film. Rear speakers are also always alive with background atmosphere and musical cues. The whole movie is designed to make the male species prick up there ears and this soundtrack is the driving force behind that.

Value: 5/10
If you want the smell of testosterone to float around your movie watching area for a few days, Gangster Squad is the flick for you. It’s got the bing bang boom of a manly good guy vs. bad guy story, so it’s worth a rental. It’s not something I want on my shelf forever and ever, so you’ll have to judge for yourself if it’s going to live in your collection.

Overall Score 7/10