Blu-ray Review: Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Warner | DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer | CAST: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 4/23/2013 | PRICE: DVD $28.98, Blu-ray $35.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 113 min. | Crime | 2.4:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Gangster SquadDirector Ruben Fleischer’s first two feature films were hit and miss. (Zombieland, a definite hit! 30 Minutes or Less, a miss.) His third, Gangster Squad, is somewhere in between.

Inspired by the real-life take down of 1940s Los Angeles gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn, This Must Be the Place), the movie features good performances all around. As well as Penn, the cast is filled with big names, including Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man), Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March), Giovanni Ribisi (The Rum Diary), Robert Patrick (Identity Thief), Michael Pena (Everything Must Go), Anthony Mackie (Real Steel), Nick Nolte (Warrior) and Josh Brolin (Men in Black 3) as Jack O’Mara, the leader of the unofficial squad. A standout is Mireille Enos (TV’s The Killing), who played Brolin’s smart, feisty wife.

The actors are all fine, despite Will Beall’s (TV’s Castle) so-so script. Fleischer is fine in the director’s seat and keeps the pace moving, with plenty of action sequences. He keeps things interesting with a comic-book, toned-down Sin City style, but it doesn’t always work.

The film might not be brilliant, but it’s not a bad way to spend a couple hours if gangster movie’s are your thing. And on high-definition Blu-ray, Gangster Squad looks good, with saturated colors, deep blacks and clear lines. The DTS-HD audio is fine too, with it’s crisp gun shots and full explosions.

The Blu-ray also is packed with special features. There are a handful of deleted scenes, which are fun and add to the story in places.

The disc also offers a bunch of brief featurettes that explore the actors, Fleischer’s filmmaking, L.A. locations, costumes and more. They’re pretty standard, but quick, and fans will enjoy seeing their favorite actors behind the scenes. The best ones are when they look at the real life story, like the interviews with the daughter of the real-life Jack O’Mara, who said her father used to hide his tommy guns under his bed, until she found them.

Expanding further on the real-life story is the Rogue Gallery TV episode about Cohen, which offers more information about the L.A. gangster’s life and includes footage of the man himself.

The movie also can be watched with “The Gangland Files” switched on, allowing you to see extras paired up with the appropriate film scene, but be aware that there is some crossover with the features on their own.

Fleischer rounds out the special features menu with a commentary.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.