Tag Archives: film noir

Gangster Squad (2013)

8 Jan

Gangster Squad is to films noir what The Avegners was to superhero flicks.

It is loud, explosive, fast paced and just good ol’ crime-fighting fun. Sure, it’s not the most intellectual piece of cinema, nor the most dramatic. But Gangster Squad gets it ferocity from it’s fast-paced, episodic action sequences, and a slew of great performances.

The casting here is remarkable and the drama is cleverly paced with welcome bouts of comedic timing. Sean Penn, as the ruthless crime leader Cohen, is at the top of his game. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are great together and Josh Brolin makes a whole-hearted likable good-guy (for once).

Added to the film’s style is a pitch-pefect retro look and beautiful Matrix-esc action scenes. The story is catered to meet modern audiences, but is still reminiscent of great films noir and gives heaping doses of thrills and emotion.  This film packs a violent punch and though not genre-defining, Gangster Squad is one of the best crime films I have seen in a long time.

rating 7/10 

gangster-squad-movie-image-sean-penn

Looper (2012)

28 Sep

Looper is the best Nolan-esc movie that Christopher Nolan didn’t direct.

In case you are unfamiliar with its premise let me fill you in:  the year is 2044.  Time travel enables criminal organizations to send people back into the past for a hit-man- a looper – to take care of.  The film revolves around one particular looper named Joe who is unexpectedly faced with an older version of himself.  The older Joe avoids being killed by the younger version and begins his own plan of manipulating the past in order to create a better outcome for the future.

Looper is great; the two leads in this film (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis), are at the top of their game.  A lot of people have been complaining about the make-up used to portray Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger Bruce Willis, but I thought the artists did a spectacular job.

Supporting actors Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, and Paul Dano each do a wonderful job and contribute to the plot significantly in their own separate ways.

This film is an entertaining ride from start finish with one of the most original plots I have seen recently.    It opens up with an assassination scene and never slows down from there. While it does rely on some typical action-movie cliches, Looper never allows the action to get in the way of its storytelling, and remains an unpredictable joy throughout.

Looper even has a dash or two of good humor. The film’s greatest strength is that it always is unpredictable, but never unrealistic or over-the-top like your typical action blockbuster (that is, if you can accept the idea of time-travel and multiple universes as realistic).  Of course with a film like this, you are inevitably going to have your nit-picking science geeks who will try and tear down the film’s ending with logic.  The film does slow down a bit during it’s second half, and goes from focusing on it’s logic to it’s morals, but this never stops Looper from being an interesting, and at times, puzzling movie.

My only regret with this movie is that it left me wishing for a time machine of my own.  That way I could travel back 24 hours in time and enjoy this introspective mind-bender all over again.

rating 8/10