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Gangster Squad (2013)
I saw a screening of Gangster Squad last night and to say the least, I was unimpressed. I had decent expectations for the film with a stout cast the likes of Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling along with a director whose last two films I enjoyed (Zombieland and 30 Mins or Less). So what went wrong? Like the summary says it was incredibly cliché of every gangster movie out there and tried so hard to be like LA Confidential and the Untouchables. While this movie would have done much better in the 90's I don't feel it fits in this generation of film.
You have Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen who decides he wants to be the king of Los Angeles and he will take out whoever is in his way. Nick Nolte plays the police chief who is tired of the way LA is going and recruits hard nosed, do-as-I-please Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) to create a crack team to take Cohen down. From there you have the obligatory round-up-the team where he gets the bi-focal smart guy, the past-his-prime outlaw and side kick, the token black guy, and the cop who doesn't want to join at first but is thrust into the fray.
You then have a typical hunt down the bad guy, have a couple of shoot outs where an incredible amount of bullets fly and no one gets touched, and a very flat romance where you wonder why these two are together for no other reason than they are really good looking. There were also moments in the climax of the movie where the audience burst out in laughter and I feel that it was incredibly unwarranted.
The only real redeeming quality was Sean Penn who gave an intense, powerful performance as Mickey Cohen. All in all I was disappointed in Gangster Squad and feel like the entire movie brought nothing new to the table of the gangster genre.
The Rite (2011)
A stale, already been told story that lacks anything special
The Rite movie poster makes you think this movie centers around Anthony Hopkins character but he is clearly there just for marketability. The movie is about Michael Kovak, a mortician turned priest who doubts the existence of anything in his life. He is sent to the Vatican to study exorcism as the number of them increase across the world and his priest thinks it can jump start his faith. It can be tricky having a suspense/horror movie rated PG-13. You can't go over the top with language or violence and usually in PG-13 horror movies you get teen campy garbage films like Prom Night. Since this movie was directed by Mikael Håfström, I had reasonable expectations since he has done good movies like 1408 and Derailed. The movie lacked direction and awareness of what it wanted to be. It started like a religious/exorcism movie then moved to a psychological thriller which picked up the movie's intrigue midway through. By the end though it switched back to where it started and totally lost me. What I was most disappointed in was the lack of seriousness. In the movie's most climatic scenes in the end, the audience in my screening was laughing when you should have been cringing. The same thing happened in the beginning of the first exorcism. You have a tense situation and Anthony Hopkins answers his cell phone in the middle of it which drew chuckles from the drones of average movie goers who don't realize that the movie is failing. It made me withdraw my interest and I lost respect for the rest of the movie. Anthony Hopkins again trying tried to channel his legendary Hannibal Lecter but it fell very flat. The script was weak and Mr. Hopkins needs to stop taking roles that remind us of that character. Overall, I didn't have great expectations, but it still was very flat and brought nothing to the table. It was a halfhearted effort by a legendary actor and a movie filled with cheap, gotcha scares. Do yourself a favor and exorcise this from your list of movies to see this winter.