In Defense of ‘Gangster Squad’
As an admittedly biased sixteen-year-old with a well preserved appreciation for bloody beat downs and cops gone rogue, I feel compelled to stand up for what comes off as a delightfully unorthodox film: Gangster Squad. When you give a movie that title, you’re obviously not trying to appeal to an upper class audience- one who appreciates the compelling and philosophical likes of Lincoln or Argo. If you are unfortunate enough to share a movie theater with the likes of those two, you’re going to get annihilated. Frequent moviegoers who cried their patriotic hearts out to Lincoln, fell off the edges of their seats in Argo, and cried through the Life of Pi are inevitably going to be disappointed by Gangster Squad. Taking this into account, of course the film got a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes (a movie reviewing website). Of course critics didn’t like it. It didn’t satiate their craving; it didn’t match their high. The day in the office when they went to watch “that movie,” was like waking up on a Tuesday morning to take double midterms after a three-day weekend. We all know how that feels. But let’s save that for the Op-Ed column.
Sometimes you just need that rough, tough catharsis of seeing the bad guy (Mickey Cohen) beat into the ground, then picked up and thrown down again, and if you’re in that mood, you want to see it happen again. You want to see some pain on the screen; you need to see justice served on a silver platter. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you go and watch Gangster Squad. Heavy rock fans, let your eyes in on a little of that action. You’ll get a similar feeling from Gangster Squad’s incessant gunfire that you will from that killer bass line you just finished rocking out to.
Occasionally you need a break from the exhausting and seemingly endless themes behind high class literature. You want some minimal, shallow characters to complete a simple plot line with plenty of action and a manageable deal of predictability. When you feel most beat down by the relentless exploration of John Steinbeck and Nathaniel Hawthorne, allow Ruben Fleischer to give your mind a break. You won’t be challenged to think outside the box, you won’t excessively perspire, and you’ll finally be able to head home without captivating topics to ponder past midnight. Gangster Squad will treat you right; it’s not like the rest.
If you’ve ever wanted to be “that guy in the movie theater,” this is absolutely the movie to do it in. Come all you line-finishing, cracker-upper, plot-predicting, seat-crowding, loud-snogging, getting-upper huddled masses, all ye yearning to stretch free, Gangster Squad is the movie for thee. Pelt your popcorn freely, unwrap your wrappers slowly, comment at will; no one will care because everyone already knows how it ends. You all know what the next line is, so why not recite it like a chorus? Laugh in harmony, enjoy the movie communally, crank your cell phones up to loud, stand up and enjoy the show.
If none of this seems like you, Lincoln and Argo are still playing. Check out The Life of Pi while you can, I’ve heard that one’s good. Enjoy the Oscar buzz, critique philosophical movies to their core, but leave Gangster Squad alone. If society has progressed to the point where we no longer appreciate the rough, tough, and innocent, I think it’s time we all sit down in a circle for another round of The Little Prince.