After what can only be described as a really lousy last few weeks, things are finally starting to pick up again in the land of Blu-ray, with several key titles (including the 3D edition of “Jurassic Park”) arriving in stores today. Though the selection isn’t as great as it was a few months ago, when compared to the rest of April, it’s hard to complain.
It’s been a while since Hollywood delivered a truly great mobster movie, and though “Gangster Squad” falls a little short of remedying that, it’s still an entertaining and welcome return to the genre, partially because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Will Beall’s script does a good job of balancing the drama with brief moments of humor, while Sean Penn’s gleefully over-the-top turn as Mickey Cohen is just campy enough without being distracting. The action sequences are also really well done, although the unique visual style that Ruben Fleischer brought to “Zombieland” isn’t as prevalent here as it was in that movie. If there’s one thing that really makes the film worth seeing, however, it’s the killer cast. Josh Brolin is great as the leader of the titular squad, and it’s nice to see Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone rekindle their chemistry from “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” even if both parts are poorly underwritten. The other cast members don’t get as much to do, but having top-notch actors like Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Patrick in those supporting roles definitely elevates the material. The story is predictable, and it owes a lot to “The Untouchables,” but “Gangster Squad” is enjoyable in spite of all that.
Blu-ray Highlight: It’s a shame that Warner Bros. didn’t include the original movie theater shootout sequence among the deleted scenes, but the rest of the bonus material is pretty good. “The Gangland Files” collects many of the disc’s extras (including Focus Point mini-featurettes, historical trivia and other bits) into a picture-in-picture track that plays alongside the film, while the audio commentary with director Ruben Fleischer is informative but not terribly engaging.