DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Gangster Squad, Blu-ray+DVD+UV Digital Copy (2013)

A decent crime drama, but not a memorable one.

Published on April 16, 2013

Gangster Squad, Blu-ray+DVD+UV Digital Copy (2013)

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment [4/23/13]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced 1080p HD for 16:9
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: Audio commentary with Director Ruben Fleischer; “The Gangland Files” in-movie, Picture-in-picture feature; “Focus Points: The Set Up” (collection of fifteen featurettes); “Then and Now Locations” featurette; “Tough Guys with Style” featurette; “Rogues’ Gallery: Mickey Cohen” documentary; Seven deleted scenes;  Trailer for “The Great Gatsby”; DVD copy; UltraViolet digital copy
Length: 113 minutes
Movie Rating: ***½      Video: ****½        Audio: *****

Gangster Squad takes place in Los Angeles in 1949.  Former professional boxer-turned-crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) rules the town and has now set his sights on expanding his territory by any means necessary.  Cohen’s ultimate goal is to control the main money wire, located west of Chicago, for all gambling bets.  LAPD Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) wants to put Cohen out of business and assembles a squad to accomplish this task.  However, the catch is that this squad must operate without official police knowledge or assistance.  Heading up this squad for Chief Parker is the no-nonsense Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin).  O’Mara recruits five other officers to help him, including the soft-spoken Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), expert marksman Max Kennard (Robert Patrick), and intelligence expert Conwell Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi).  With every success the squad achieves in disabling a part of Cohen’s operation, Cohen becomes increasingly enraged and the bullets, blood and body counts grow ever higher.  Complicating matters further, Wooters has become romantically involved with Cohen’s woman, Grace Farady (Emma Stone).  “Gangster Squad” is a decent crime drama film, just not a particularly memorable one.  There is a fair amount of action and the film moves along briskly.  Penn delivers an over-the-top portrayal of Cohen, so much so that it reminded me of a Dick Tracy-type villain.  Fans of the film will want to pick up this feature-laden Blu-ray combo pack, while all others should consider renting “Gangster Squad” before purchasing.

The overall high-definition video quality of this Blu-ray disc is excellent.  Images are pristine with fine detail.  Black levels are uniformly deep throughout the movie but occasionally exhibit crush.  Colors are warm and rich with well-saturated hues.  Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts.

The overall audio quality is also excellent on the English DTS HD-MA 5.1 track.  The soundtrack is dynamic, loud and incorporates each of the discrete channels.  Dialogue is natural-sounding and remains intelligible even during the on-screen action.  The surround channels are aggressively utilized for sound effects and the musical score.  The low frequency effects channel is active throughout and provides plenty of thump.

—Calvin Harding Jr.




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