“Gangster Squad” had so much promise. It boasted a notable director, a fantastic cast led by the likes of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and it had a ridiculously awesome title. What went wrong? Well a terrible script for starters, but those gluttons for punishment among you can now dig deeper and find out for yourselves from the comfort of your own homes.
Also out on DVD this week a harrowing tale of survival and an epic showdown between Matt Damon and fracking.
Gosling and Josh Brolin leading a rag-tag group of cops against mobster Mickey Cohen (a miscast Sean Penn) in 1940s Los Angeles sounds cool as hell. It is not. Director Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”) struggles to find the right tone and the proceedings get increasingly ridiculous to the point that it is almost impossible to care. Best to leave this one sleeping with the fishes.
A truly impressive film based on the true story of a vacationing family ripped apart by the tsunami that struck Thailand in 2004. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor turn in great performances as husband and wife (Watts earned an Academy Award nomination) but you’ll want to keep your eye on Tom Holland who plays their oldest son. This kid has the goods. You could accuse this movie of being emotionally manipulative or culturally insensitive (Indian Ocean tsunami = worst 5-star vacation EVER!) but in the end, it is nothing short of a celebration of the enduring human spirit.
On the surface, this movie where Matt Damon stars as the representative of a natural gas company buying up parcels of land in a small town looks like a Hollywood soapbox. However, director Gus Van Sant is a slyer cat than that, and “Promised Land” winds up painting a black-and-white argument in shades of deep grey. With a supporting cast that includes Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, and Hal Holbrook this is a movie that has its moments, but never actually lives up to the greatness it flirts with. Still, watching all this talent swing and miss is more interesting than the vast majority of what you will find at your local megaplex.